Jasper Doest, Netherlands

Pandemic Pigeons: A Love Story chronicles the lives of Ollie and Dollie, a pair of bold pigeons that has befriended my family whilewe were isolating in our apartment in the Netherlands.

Some people believe that by living in an urban world, these birds avoid the rules of nature, but the opposite is true. Not only do pigeons face predators, food shortages, and competition for nesting sites, but they are also subject to the whims of human society. Weaker pigeons still manage to stretch their fate by begging for crumbs in the streets, and it’s these bottom-rung pigeons that shape the species’ overall reputation. It’s fascinating to me that while many of the animals we don’t interact with are our most-loved, the animals we draw into our lives unintentionally are often the most hated. Pigeons must be one of the most unloved birds around.

But we got to know them as intelligent and social birds. Before we knew it, Ollie and Dollie became regulars in our house. Their daily visits have become a reminder of another reality: We are not alone on this planet, and we need to share it with all living beings as if our lives depended on it. Even while isolating in a concrete jungle.

Discover more: Shortlist 2021