Bald Eagle and Great Blue Herons. Photo: Bonnie Block/2016 Grand Prize Winner

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Our 10 Most Popular Stories of 2016

Cartoon sandpipers, a rare white hummer, birds that understand humans—there was plenty of variety in Audubon's hit stories this year.

The 2016 Audubon Photography Awards Winners 

No surprise here. Every year our Audubon Photo Awards churn up some of the most vivid moments in nature photography. This year's winners were no different. To find out how to submit photos for next year's awards, visit our 2017 APA page here

Photo: Steve Torna/Audubon Photography Awards 

This Rare Video of a Bald Eagle Attacking an Osprey Nest Is an Incredible Display of Speed and Strength 

For nest-cam viewers following the story of Rachel and Steve, a pair of Ospreys living on Hog Island, Maine, this video was hard to watch. Last year the couple lost all of their chicks to a Bald Eagle, but everyone thought this year's brood, which was on the verge of fledging, was going to make it. And then another Bald Eagle attack. Although the clip of the eagle snagging one of the Osprey chicks from its nest was upsetting for some, it was a staggering display of power caught on camera and perfectly captured the evolutionary instincts of survival: One of the chicks fledged early just to escape the invading raptor's talons. 

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Pixar's New Short Film 'Piper' 

Pixar—check. Adorable baby Sanderling—check. A sweet story about overcoming fears—well, you get the idea. Our preview of Pixar's most recent short, which accompanied the film Finding Dory in theaters, provided readers with a detailed account of how the creators of Piper managed to depict the birds and their behaviors so accurately. This included creating 4.5–7 million digital feathers for each bird. 

Illustration: Disney•Pixar

An Organic Chicken Farm in Georgia Has Become an Endless Buffet for Bald Eagles 

Five years ago, White Oak Farms began having a problem: Overwintering Bald Eagles started feasting on the farm's free-range chickens. Since then, the number of raptors has grown to more than 75, and despite having dogs and numerous attempts to solve the issue, White Oak has few options when it comes to protecting its fowl from the federally-protected eagles. Unsurprisingly, this story garnered a lot of attention while also drumming up plenty of controversy. 

Photo: Bryan Meltz

Agami Herons' Full Mating Ritual Photographed for First Time 

The Agami Heron is a striking and mysterious bird found in Central and South America. In fact, they are so elusive that no one even knows where they overwinter. So when a couple trekked to Costa Rica and managed to photograph two herons engaging in their full mating ritual for the first time, it was a remarkable accomplishment. The couple's tale combined with their beautiful photographs made this story a reader favorite. 

Photo: Kirsten Hines

Why Do Owls Bob Their Heads? 

It's a simple but good question. And, as it turns out, there's also a really interesting answer. Add in a fun head-bobbing video to illustrate the story, which features a podcast from Audubon's partner BirdNote, and it's no wonder why this post was so popular.   

Video: Rathika Ramasamy

Rare White Hummingbird Steal the Spotlight at California Garden 

This summer, an Anna's Hummingbird stopped by the Australian Gardens at the University of California, Santa Cruz Arboretum. A rarity, the bird caused a stir with the crowds that flocked to the gardens to see it. The ghostly hummer also made quite an impresson on our readers. 

Photo: Brad R. Lewis

Strike a Pose: 12 Pics of Birds Being Birds

Last year the Audubon Photography Awards had almost 7,000 submissions. Only a tiny fraction of those made it to the finals, but among the photos that didn't move on were still some pretty special moments. This collection of candid shots culled from APA submissions and accompanied by commentary from Audubon Field Editor Kenn Kaufman gave readers a charming glimps into the lives of birds familiar and new. 

Photo: Sunil Gopalan/Audubon Photography Awards

The Secret Superpower of Birds Revealed 

We know birds are capable of some impressive feats, but they also seem to be continually surprising us with new ones. This story on how certain birds are able to use UV vision to see the world differently is just another reason to be amazed by avians. 

Photo: Sagar Simkhada/Alamy

Meet the Greater Honeyguide, the Bird That Understand Humans 

Humans have worked side by side with animals for centuries, but the connection between the Yao people of Mozambique and the Greater Honeyguide goes beyond anything scientists have ever studied before: Once Yao hunters call the birds using special sounds, the honeyguides lead them to hidden beehives, which the Yao harvest honey from and the honeguides feast on afterward. The fascinating partnership is the only known example of targeted two-way signals between animals and humans. Click through for a photo gallery following the hunters and honeyguides on a mission. 

Photo: Claire Spottiswoode

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