The winning pictures from this year’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) annual photo contest capture what can happen when you pay attention to quiet moments: hidden owls perched in a tree, brilliant aurora borealis over a lake in the middle of the night, a decaying carcass in a snowstorm. The photos, submitted by graduate students, researchers, and faculty in EEB, highlight unexpected scale, color, and movement, and observe life through the thoughtful and precise lens of a scientist.

EEB’s twelfth annual photo contest honors the memory of former “photographer-at-large” for the department David Bay, who passed away in 2009.

Frozen Fish on a Cold Morning
Graduate student William Weaver was collecting water sample at Seaman Reservoir along the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River in Colorado when he captured this picture. The lake was just beginning to thaw after a snowstorm a few days earlier, and Weaver discovered the frozen fish when he jumped out of the boat to break through the ice to reach shore.
Spring Aurora Borealis on Douglas Lake
Research lab specialist John Den Uyl captured this picture at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) in Pellston, Michigan. When he saw the northern lights shining around 2:30 a.m., he rang the dining hall bell to let the other camp residents know, hoping to rouse them from sleep. The northern lights only lasted about an hour and, on that cold night, Den Uyl watched from the shores of Douglas Lake. 
A Family of Camouflage
Graduate student John David Curlis snapped this picture of a family of owls at Island Park in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He’d been exploring the park because he’d heard that great horned owls were observed in the area, but he was not expecting to discover their nest so easily, and not at a time when they were home and awake. How many owls can you spot?
Bold and Brash
Graduate student John David Curlis captured this brilliant blue red-legged honeycreeper while working as a nature guide in San Luis de Monteverde, Costa Rica. Males have bright blue-violet and black plumage and a turquoise crest. The underside of their wings is a lemon yellow, which can be seen in flight. 
Winter Snack
Graduate student Rumaan Malhotra took this picture in Sierra Baguales, Patagonia, on a hike in a remote area south of his field site. It shows a southern crested caracara feasting on a sheep carcass. The shocking scene took place only 100 meters off the road, right as it started to snow. Not pictured: four other southern crested caracaras. (It’s unusual for that type of caracara to gather in large groups; they’re usually seen alone or in pairs.)
No! I Have Acrophobia!
Graduate student Siliang Song spotted this jumping spider sitting atop a fiddlehead in Borneo tropical jungle in Sabah, Malaysia. It took several shots for Song to find the right focus, and the jumping spider stayed still throughout the photoshoot, only moving slightly to pose for Song.