The Winners Of This Year’s Audubon Bird Photography Awards Have Been Announced (10 Pics)
The Audubon Photography Awards is an annually held bird photography competition held by the National Audubon Society – a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to wildlife conservation. This year marked the 10 year anniversary of the competition and the panel of 6 judges recently picked out 6 winning photos and 4 honorable mentions from over 8,000 submissions from 2,253 entrants.
The photographers compete in 4 categories – Professional, Amateur, Youth, and Plants for Birds – as well as the Grand and Fisher Prizes. Anyone from the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec) may enter the competition.
The organizers of the Audubon Photography Awards encourage every photographer to practice ethical and responsible bird photography, meaning no harassment of birds, no using bait to lure them, photographing their nests with macro lenses and no drone photography. Breaking any of these rules results in immediate disqualification.
Check out the amazing winning photos and the stories behind the shot in the gallery below!
More info: Audubon
Grand Prize Winner: Kathrin Swoboda
“I visit this park near my home to photograph blackbirds on cold mornings, often aiming to capture the “smoke rings” that form from their breath as they sing out. On this occasion, I arrived early on a frigid day and heard the cry of the blackbirds all around the boardwalk. This particular bird was very vociferous, singing long and hard. I looked to set it against the dark background of the forest, shooting to the east as the sun rose over the trees, backlighting the vapor.”
Amateur Winner: Mariam Kamal
“On my fifth trip to Costa Rica, my favorite birding spots produced a few measly sightings. So I drove six hours to a reforestation site, which turned out to be well worth the trip. For an hour I photographed a valiant troop of White-necked Jacobins consuming nectar from heliconias that swayed and bobbed in a forceful wind. I could barely breathe as I snapped—I felt that I, too, was fighting to hang on!”
Youth Winner: Sebastian Velasquez
“Traveling through Alaska I saw Horned and Tufted Puffins from afar, always hoping to get closer. I got my chance at the SeaLife Center. Amid the chaos of native birds swimming, fishing, and zipping past me, I waited for hours for the perfect shot. At last I spotted this secluded puffin in a moment of stillness, preening its feathers, providing a glimpse into a seemingly private moment.”
Professional Winner: Elizabeth Boehm
“I spent a number of cold spring mornings photographing the courting display of the Greater Sage-Grouse from a blind on the perimeter of the lek. Along with the strutting, I watch for the dominance fights between males. The two contestants sit side by side until, upon some invisible cue, they suddenly throw blows, hitting each other with their wings. This photo, captured on hard snowpack, shows the power they exhibit when they are fighting for mates.”
Plants for Birds Winner: Michael Schulte
“Soon after moving to San Diego last year, I noticed a pair of orioles that frequented the California fan palm in my backyard. When I saw the female gathering palm fibers for a nest, I grabbed my camera. I love this shot; it shows the relationship between two native species and illustrates the natural beauty to be appreciated even in a city. And the radiating palm fronds behind the female give a sense of radiance to her diligent efforts.”
Fisher Prize Winner: Ly Dang
“On a steep, windy slope of Saunders Island, several breeding colonies of Black-browed Albatrosses were tending their chicks and squawking at the neighbors to urge them to respect the territories. As I sat watching the birds conducting their daily activities, I started to notice the simple, elegant beauty of the adults’ eyes. After several positions looking for a clear view and a good light angle, I took this shot.”
Amateur Honorable Mention: Melissa Rowell
“A storm was on the horizon when I arrived at one of my favorite wetlands. These herons immediately grabbed my attention: The male, obviously attempting to entice the female, was doing a stretch display. I love this mating ritual and decided to spend some time with them. When serious bill duels erupted between the pair, I was fascinated by their intense expressions as they sparred. The drama was further heightened as, thunder rumbling in the distance, the wind picked up, accentuating their long, flowing plumes.”
Professional Honorable Mention: Kevin Ebi
“I had spent the day photographing foxes and was panning with this kit running with its prey when an unmistakable cry made me look up. I just knew the eagle racing our way was after the fox’s rabbit. I expected to have only a split second to capture the theft in one explosive frame; instead the eagle snagged the fox and rabbit, carrying both 20 feet off the ground. After eight seconds it dropped the fox, seemingly unharmed, and flew away with its stolen dinner.”
Plants for Birds Honorable Mention: Joseph Przybyla
“The normally elusive Purple Gallinule comes into the open when fire flag blooms, climbing the plant to feed on its flowers. I spotted this one making its way up the plant mid-morning on an overcast day, eating as it went. I set up with my monopod and camera, watching, waiting. When it reached the top, I captured images as it moved from stem to stem, moving quickly, side to side, up and down, choosing the best angle, and ultimately getting this photo of the bird mid-snack.”
Youth Honorable Mention: Garrett Sheets
“At sunset the Dunn Ranch Prairie becomes a field of golden grasses, which provided a perfect setting for this male as he perched briefly for a curious glance at my camera. The robotic tone of his song was echoed by dozens of other Bobolinks as they flew overhead. I was almost too excited to take the photo, but I secured a burst of photos before he took off, flying far out over the grasses.”