We’re learning more about what they endure as they fly thousands of miles—and how humans and climate change are making it tougher for them.
NORTHERN GANNETS Bass Rock, Scotland During breeding season, 150,000 gannets throng this island in the Firth of Forth. In winter the birds decamp south as far as West Africa. To make this image, Wilkes and an assistant lugged his gear 122 steps uphill and set up near the ruins of a church about six feet from the nesting birds. Standing on the rocky ground for 28 sleepless hours, he took 1,176 photos. “It’s like a meditative state,” he says. “I’m alert to everything. I’m seeing everything.” He selected about 150 photos to make this image.