Grand Prize Winner/Species: red-shouldered hawk, by Carol Graham Fryer
“He hung like a moth for a while,” says Carol Graham Fryer, of the raptor she shot. “He struggled and struggled to free himself from the moss. I was just trained on him, taking pictures. Then he was suddenly able to take off.” Though Fryer takes photographs around the world, she ventured only as far as her Jacksonville backyard to get this beauty. “I can see that tree from my kitchen window,” says the 68-year-old retired singer. “He was just sitting there, as pretty as you please.”
Professional Birds Winner/Species: American kestrel, by Randall K. Roberts
“I had nearly decided to leave [the park] when I spotted a male American kestrel high in a tree,” says the 55-year-old professional photographer. “I was driving at the time, and quickly stopped the car and grabbed my camera. I had just enough time to make a few frames before the kestrel flew off. This was one time when a pure-white sky made a photo work.”
Professional Birds and Their Habitat Winner/Species: northern pygmy-owl, by Paul Bannick
Carefully balancing himself and his tripod, Paul Bannick, 48, took a deep breath. Exhaling, he clicked the shutter. The result: a photo of this female nesting high in a tree cavity. “Each owl [species] represents a habitat,” says Bannick, a conservation group’s development director. “If I could tell the story of the owl well, I can get people intrigued with that habitat and what needs to be protected.”
Amateur Birds Winner/Species: great gray owl, by Jim Brown
“Great grays are on my bucket list,” says Jim Brown, “to get pictures of them.” So when a network of Wyoming nature photographers found out that about a dozen had set up shop nearby, Brown made a beeline for the site, spending a patient—and cold—four days shooting the owls. “They’re so big and elusive,” he adds. “When they came out like this, it was our only chance. I’ve been after them for at least 10 or 11 years.”
Amateur Birds and Their Habitat Winner/Species: common loon, by Richard Simonsen
Richard Simonsen, a 66-year-old dentist, spent five weekends one summer shadowing a loon family—mom, dad, two chicks—with camera in tow. His singular focus was a great underwater picture. “[Loons] are just very special creatures because they live on the water,” he says. “To see them in shallow water, to look down on them as they’re coming by at warp speed—it’s just very special.”
Youth Birds Winner/Species: house sparrow, by Timothy Brooks
“I was trying to catch that crazy, chaotic mood,” says 17-year-old Timothy Brooks. He happened upon the frenzied scene at this feeder, fashioned out of a log, during the North American Nature Photography Association Summit. Brooks was one of 10 high school students who received a scholarship to attend and work with professional photographers.
Youth Birds and Their Habitat Winner/Species: greylag geese, by Cedar Byrum
During a family vacation in Northern England, Cedar Byrum, 17, put a digital camera his aunt gave him to good use. The then 14-year-old had no trouble nabbing this shot of the lake’s swarming gaggle.