This year thousands of photographers from across the United States and Canada submitted more than 8,000 images to the 10th annual Audubon Photography Awards. Our panel of expert judges whittled down the entries to six spectacular winners, but with so many fantastic submissions every year, we always have to share more. Once again, we've selected 100 additional photographs, displayed here in no particular order. The collection shows birdlife in all its delightful and captivating variety, from elegant to humorous to powerful.

And should the stunning images spark an interest in picking up a camera to capture the beauty of birds, check out our photography guide; it’s got everything you need to get started, including tips and how-to’s, gear recommendations, and Audubon's ethical guidelines for wildlife photography. 

Looking for a more personal experience? Train with pros this summer at a series of free Canon- and Audubon-led workshops, bird walks, and festivals around the country; events will be held at the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge, the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Mississippi, the John James Audubon Center in Pennsylvania, and more (click here for the complete schedule). Next year your photograph of a feeding frenzy or an intimate family portrait might make the cut.

Category: Professional
Photographer: Pamela Underhill Karaz
Species: Roseate Spoonbill
Location: Bunche Beach Preserve, Fort Myers, FL
Camera: Nikon D850 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens and AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III; 1/800 second at f/6.3; ISO 800
Story Behind the Shot: On a beach in Florida, I made my way over to a pool formed by the low tide and laid down next to it in the wet sand. Within minutes a group of Roseate Spoonbills flew in and landed nearby. They walked through the shallow water, swinging their open bills from side to side to sift for crustaceans and small fish. At one point the more brightly colored adult snapped at the leg of the paler juvenile. Seconds later they went back to searching for food as though nothing had happened.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Karen Boyer Guyton
Species: Anna’s Hummingbird
Location: Quilcene, WA
Camera: Sony Alpha 99 II with Tamron 150-600mm f/5.0-6.3 SSM lens; 1/1600 second at f/5.6; ISO 500
Story Behind the Shot: Where I live in western Washington, Anna’s Hummingbirds overwinter and remain quite active in even the coldest part of the season. This past winter was particularly snowy, so I put out extra feeders for the birds and set out cattails for them to use as nesting material. Two females I had seen quickly found the nesting option to their liking, and I captured this shot one morning in March from my back patio.
Category: Professional
Photographer: Nate Chappell
Species: House Finch, Pyrrhuloxia, Northern Cardinal
Location: Elephant Head, Amado, AZ
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon EF 500mm F/4L IS USM lens; 1/2500 second at f/6.3; ISO 1600
Story Behind the Shot: While I was in the midst of photographing these birds perched on top of a cactus, they all started flying off at once. I was thrilled to capture the three lined up in various stages of takeoff: the House Finch still perched, the Pyrrhuloxia with its wing up, and the Northern Cardinal launched into the air. It was an added bonus that Pyrrhuloxias and cardinals look so similar, as they are closely related.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Michael Despines
Species: Savannah Sparrow
Location: Skagit County, WA
Camera: Nikon D500 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens; 1/1000 second at f/5.6; ISO 400
Story Behind the Shot: On a trip to tulip fields, I came armed with a selection of wide-angle lenses to take a typical landscape shot. I noticed a Savannah Sparrow perched on a flower, calling out to proclaim his territory, and I realized a very different shot might be possible—a fanciful Technicolor bird-scape. The following week I returned with a new lens and began to study the sparrow. He often preferred the tallest tulips in the area, and would stay in his monochromatic field. I found sparrows in pink, purple, yellow, and orange fields. This fellow offered “Savannah in Red.”
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Daniel D’Auria
Species: Snowy Egret
Location: Peaceful Waters Sanctuary, Wellington, FL
Camera: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens; 1/2000 second at f/4; ISO 125
Story Behind the Shot: On an evening trip to a wildlife sanctuary I knelt close to the water’s edge, watching several waders hunt for their last meal of the day. A Snowy Egret, prowling the duckweed-filled marshes, was waiting for the right moment to strike. As it lunged forward, I fired off a series of frames, capturing the instant its sharp bill pierced the surface, sending duckweed flying into the air.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Peter Brannon
Species: Red-shouldered Hawk
Location: Tampa, FL
Camera: Nikon D850 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4 IF-ED lens; 1/3200 second at f/4; ISO 2000
Story Behind the Shot: While birding at a local park, I heard splashing noises coming from the woods. I stepped through the foliage and came across this Red-shouldered Hawk bathing in a large puddle. I lowered myself to the ground and maneuvered my lens through the brush. I chose a shallow depth of field to deal with the low light and busy setting, and a fast shutter speed to capture the splashes. The hawk stayed and bathed for a few minutes before shaking himself and flying off. It was a wonderful, intimate moment.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Corey Raffel
Species: Resplendent Quetzal
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Camera: Nikon D850 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens and tc-14e iii teleconverter; 1/500 second at f/5.6; ISO 1800
Story Behind the Shot: On a trip to Costa Rica, I had the chance to photograph a pair of these big, spectacular members of the trogon family at their nest. Every 20 minutes, the male or female would show up with an insect or wild avocado for the nestlings. Here, I caught the male peering out of the nest hole after a delivery. I got a kick out of seeing that his long streamers—the upper tail coverts, not his tail feathers—didn’t fit in the nest with him, but curved around to stick out over his head.
Category: Youth
Photographer: Cameron Darnell
Species: Loggerhead Shrike
Location: Sebastian, FL
Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Canon EF 500mm f/4 IS II USM lens; 1/800 second at f/4; ISO 100
Story Behind the Shot: Whenever I see Loggerhead Shrikes, they always seem to prefer man-made perches. But this individual made my day by lighting on a natural twig in glowing backlight. The perch was exceedingly flimsy in the wind, so the bird had a hard time staying upright.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Matthew Olson
Species: Anna's Hummingbird
Location: Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, OR
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 400mm f/4.5-5.6 L DO IS USM lens; 1/1000 second at f/5.6; ISO 640
Story Behind the Shot: A few days after our wedding, my spouse and I went to one of our favorite places in Oregon. We encountered this little male aggressively patrolling his territory, his beak speckled with pollen. He stopped and perched on a willow branch right in front of us for a few brief seconds—long enough for me to shoot a couple frames. The photo is a sort of special wedding gift for us.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Sandrine Biziaux-Scherson
Species: Common Yellowthroat
Location: Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve, Newport Beach, CA
Camera: Nikon D810 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens; 1/1000 second at f/5.6; ISO 400
Story Behind the Shot: I visited a local preserve during the California super bloom, when coastal sage scrub and California sunflowers were at their peak—a favorite of birds looking for bugs and caterpillars. This day, I followed this male Common Yellowthroat that was out in the open, calling for a mate. I used a shallow depth of field to isolate him and create a sense of smallness and fragility.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Lisa Sproat
Species: Ural Owl
Location: Tsurui, Akan District, Hokkaido, Japan
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens; 1/200 second at f/8; ISO 640
Story Behind the Shot: In late afternoon I was walking on a footpath through the woods in Hokkaido on an especially cold day as the snow was starting to get heavy. When we turned the last switchback, the snow blanketing the woods reflected just enough light to illuminate this pair of Ural Owls in a tree hollow. They slept through the frigid half hour I spent observing them, only stirring to shuffle in their sleep. To get this shot, I balanced my lens on my knee and braced against a tree so my shivering wouldn't blur the image.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Peter Hartlove
Species: Willow Ptarmigan
Location: Hudson Bay, Manitoba, Canada
Camera: Nikon D5 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E AF-S ED VR lens; 1/2500 second at f/5.6; ISO 500
Story Behind the Shot: On a trip to the shores of Hudson Bay in search of polar bear sows and cubs emerging from their dens, I came across a congregation of Willow Ptarmigan. I climbed out of my sled, pulled off my bulky mittens, and got as low to the ground as possible. I noticed one straggler hanging back that started jumping to nibble on a tree branch. I had never heard of this behavior before, and I smiled as my shutter fired away, getting shots of multiple jumps. This image captured the moment best.
Category: Youth
Photographer: Brian Knight
Species: American Dipper
Location: Estes Park, CO
Camera: Nikon D7100 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm lens; 1/1000 second at f/6.3; ISO 500
Story Behind the Shot: On a chilly November afternoon, I discovered this American Dipper foraging in a Colorado stream. It dove headfirst into the freezing water again and again in search of food. I waited on the river bank as it moved back and forth across the rocky stream, slowly making its way toward me. I captured this brief moment of the dipper perched on an ice shelf before it plunged into the water once again.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Steve Torna
Species: Atlantic Puffin
Location: Grímsey Island, Iceland
Camera: Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon EF 500mm f/4 IS II USM lens; 1/800 second at f/4.5; ISO 800
Story Behind the Shot: In July I was fortunate to visit Grímsey Island, Iceland, and experience 10 days of total immersion in the life of the Atlantic Puffin. On the last evening of the trip, severe wind and dark skies nearly drove me inside. But I decided to remain on the cliffs and was rewarded with an unexpected break in the clouds and an unobstructed view of a backlit, sand-eel-toting puffin hurrying to its burrow.
Category: Youth
Photographer: Sonja Puhek
Species: Killdeer
Location: Barr Lake State Park, Brighton, CO
Camera: Olympus EM-1 Mark II with M.Zuiko ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II lens; 1/800 second at f/8. ISO 500
Story Behind the Shot: I was exhausted and ready to go home after a long, cold morning of birding when I noticed several male Killdeer competing for a female. I crept over to the clearing and got as low as I could until I was at the birds’ level. The group was constantly moving except for one instant when they all lined up perfectly and looked at the camera. I spent another hour taking pictures of the fighting before two finally mated and the rest flew away.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Teri Franzen
Species: Peregrine Falcon
Location: Bradford County, PA
Camera: Canon EOS-1D X with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II lens; 1/2000 second at f/5.6; ISO 1000
Story Behind the Shot: During a recent spring I had the incredible fortune of discovering Peregrine Falcons on a friend’s property nesting in cliffs where the birds hadn’t been sighted since the 1950s. For weeks I dressed in camouflage from head to toe and made my way to a ledge 60 yards from the nest. I watched the chicks grow and witnessed their first days of flying. In this shot, a male fledgling looks up in hopes of receiving a scrap of food that one of his parents had just delivered to his brother. Shortly after, he flew up and shared the meal.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Hob Osterlund
Species: Laysan Albatross
Location: Kilauea, Kauai, HI
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T2i with Canon 70mm-300 mm lens; 1/320 second at f/13 ISO 400
Story Behind the Shot: When Laysan Albatross parents forage in the vast North Pacific, they leave their chicks behind, unattended. The little ones often spend their waking hours exploring. They build new nests and pick up objects off the ground, and tug on branches like a puppy would tug on slippers. The older they get, the more interested they become in things that fly: birds, bees, butterflies—even helicopters and planes. I saw this chick watching an adult albatross fly overhead; when I returned the next day, it had fledged.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Gary Leka
Species: Red-winged Blackbird
Location: Linn, TX
Camera: Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM lens; 1/2000 second at f/5.6; ISO 3200
Story Behind the Shot: I happened to spot this group of blackbirds as I was preparing to get into a blind to observe birds by a water-hole in South Texas in an otherwise arid area. I noticed that the female appeared bolder than many of the other birds visiting the water. With the weak morning light, I felt fortunate to get her head frozen in this position.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Sarah Devlin
Species: Red-tailed Hawk
Location: Dennis, MA
Camera: Nikon D500 with Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens; 1/2500 second at f/6.3; ISO 500
Story Behind the Shot: I arrived at the beach on a frigid morning hoping to find a group of overwintering Snowy Owls. Before I even left my car I noticed a Red-tailed Hawk flying erratically over the marsh, chasing something. I grabbed my camera, jumped out of the car, and began tracking the hawk with my lens. Soon it dropped close to the ground, still in hot pursuit. I took a quick burst as the hawk flew through a stand of phragmites. I was struck by its power and grace.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Joshua Galicki
Species: Black-browed Albatross
Location: New Island, Falkland Islands
Camera: Canon EOS-1DX Mark II with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens; 1/1000 second at f/8; ISO 1000
Story Behind the Shot: I decided to spend an early morning at a Black-browed Albatross colony on a remote, western island in the Falklands archipelago. I arrived as the sun was rising, providing just enough light to illuminate this albatross pair as they performed a courtship ritual with bills crossed, mutual preening, and vocalizations. The cliff below was not yet lit, providing a dark background that emphasizes the intimacy of the moment.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: David Bates
Species: Wild Turkey
Location: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, San Antonio, NM
Camera: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens; 1/3200 second at f/8; ISO 800
Story Behind the Shot: After photographing the blastoff of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese at sunrise on a birding trip over the Thanksgiving holiday, I saw a flock of turkeys feeding in a field. In hopes of capturing one in flight, I checked the direction of the wind and the light, set up my position, and waited. Finally, the flock took flight with a mountain backdrop, illuminated by the soft morning light. I may have missed a big Thanksgiving dinner with my family, but I didn’t miss a Thanksgiving turkey.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Alan Krakauer
Species: Marbled Godwit, Willet
Location: Arrowhead Marsh, Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland, CA Camera: Canon EOS 6D with SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens; 1/2000 second at f/10; ISO 1600
Story Behind the Shot: At a marsh near where I live in the San Francisco Bay, a boardwalk juts out into the tidal wetland. On one high-tide visit, wave after wave of Marbled Godwits and Willets began descending on the far end of the boardwalk. As more birds flew in, the earlier arrivals were forced to make space, resulting in a mass of hundreds of shorebirds shuffling toward me. I lay down to get eye level with the mob and captured this close up, primarily of godwits.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Frank Young
Species: Roseate Spoonbill
Location: Green Cay Nature Center & Wetlands, Boynton Beach, FL
Camera: Nikon D300S with Nikon DX AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 GED VR; 1/1000 second at f/5; ISO 200
Story Behind the Shot: As I walked the boardwalk of a nature preserve, a small flock of Roseate Spoonbills flew into the area and started feeding. Knowing that the fading light would give me little time to get a decent photograph, I hurried to get into a good position. I got lucky when one of the spoonbills waded toward me, just as the sun was setting, and I was able to capture this beautiful bird at one of my favorite places.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Gail Bisson
Species: Piping Plover
Location: Big Glace Bay Beach, Glace Bay, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Camera: Canon EOS-1 DX with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens; 1/2500 second at f/7.1; ISO 640
Story Behind the Shot: A pair of nesting Piping Plovers returns to this beach each year, and every July I look forward to seeing the new chicks learn to forage on the shoreline. I spend hours on my belly, propped up on elbow pads and knee pads, waiting for the curious birds to make their way toward me. I watch as they catch bugs, preen, and begin to navigate on their own. For three years I’d tried to catch the chicks stretching their wings on camera before I finally captured this shot.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Christina McCormick
Species: Hooded Warbler
Location: Zaleski State Forest, Zaleski, OH
Camera: Canon EOS-1D X with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS lens; 1/500 second at f/5.6; ISO 2500
Story Behind the Shot: I had been shooting photos with friends on a misty morning when the others decided to call it a day. Just after they left, this Hooded Warbler landed on a branch nearby. The bird, the water droplets, and the patter of the rain on my rain jacket all made the moment alone seem magical.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Joshua Galicki
Species: Gentoo Penguin
Location: Volunteer Point, East Falkland, Falkland Islands
Camera: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens; 1/4000 second at f/5.6; ISO 800
Story Behind the Shot: I was lying on the beach during a stretch of fair weather, just waiting to capture a Gentoo Penguin jumping out of the surf. To my delight a trio emerged from the water and walked straight toward me. This photo seems to capture the unique personality of each bird. I saw three best friends, from left to right: the comedian, the ringleader, and the runway model.
Category: Professional
Photographer: Nate Chappell
Species: American Avocet
Location: San Luis Pass, Galveston Island, TX
Camera: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens; 1/2000 second at f/9; ISO 1000
Story Behind the Shot: The sun had just made an appearance, lighting up the clouds on an overcast day, when I noticed a group of avocets flying high in the sky. As soon as I pointed my lens at the flock they banked, showing off the intricate patterns on their wings. After I snapped off a round of shots the sun went back behind the clouds and I decided to call it a day and head home.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Edmund Prescottano
Species: African Jacana
Location: Chobe River, Chobe National Park, Kasane, Botswana
Camera: Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens; 1/2500 second at f/6.4; ISO 500
Story Behind the Shot: I was on a small boat on a river in Botswana. We entered a small lagoon covered with lily pads and came upon a jacana tip-toeing over the plants, searching for something to eat. To get eye-level with the bird, I hung over the bow of the boat and positioned my camera just above the water.
Category: Professional
Photographer: Barbara White
Species: Willet
Location: Laguna Beach, CA
Camera: Sony a7R III with Sony FE 100-400 f4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens ; 1/1250 second at f/5.6; ISO 800
Story Behind the Shot: Last winter I started photographing birds on the beach every afternoon. One Willet in particular let me photograph him to my heart’s content, as long as I didn’t get too close. Most of the time he would dig for snails on the water’s edge, but sometimes he tried to grab a morsel that washed up in the surf, like in this shot. Two weeks after I took this photograph he left, I assume to migrate north. I can hardly wait until he comes back next year.
Category: Youth
Photographer: Tobias Yoder
Species: Gray Hawk
Location: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, TX
Camera: Nikon D500 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6 ED VR lens; 1/320 second at f/5.6; ISO 140
Story Behind the Shot: While walking through Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park I noticed an opening in the trees and saw this Gray Hawk swoop down into a dense bush, probably chasing some other bird as prey. It turned and stared back at me, lit up in dramatic lighting that shows its intensity.
Category: Youth
Photographer: Tobias Yoder
Species: Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird
Location: Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory, Austin, TX
Camera: Nikon D500 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6 ED VR lens; 1/1250 second at f/5.6; ISO 1250
Story Behind the Shot: On a cold, foggy winter morning I was watching a particularly large flock of mixed blackbirds when the birds began to fly in a spectacular synchronized pattern. A continuous stream of more and more birds joined the immense flock, which cut through the air like a school of fish fleeing a shark.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Steve Torna
Species: Yellow-headed Blackbird
Location: Shiloh Conservation Area, Billings, MT
Camera: Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon EF 500mm f/4 IS II USM lens; 1/500 second at f/5.6; ISO 640
Story Behind the Shot: Each spring I visit my favorite wetland areas to photograph Yellow-headed Blackbirds and listen to their raucous calls. On a particularly cold May morning at sunrise, the birds and cattails were backlit and glowing like miniature lanterns. One landed very close to me, and through my lens I could see a burst of breath rolling in the cold wind with each call. I returned every day for more than a week trying to create a similar image, but the same conditions didn’t occur again.
Category: Youth
Photographer: August Davidson-Onsgard
Species: Blackpoll Warbler
Location: Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, NY
Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens; 1/1000 second at f/5.6; ISO 1250
Story Behind the Shot: I found this Blackpoll Warbler while leading a bird walk at my local park in New York City. The bird was in the perfect spot for the sun to hit its face while the oak leaves shaded the rest of the photo, creating this dramatic effect.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: David Russell
Species: Southern Red Bishop
Location: Bluff Nature Reserve, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Camera: Nikon D750 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens; 1/2500 second at f/5.6; ISO 500
Story Behind the Shot: On a trip to South Africa I was staying at a nature reserve close to the beach, a tiny pristine wetland area behind sand dunes. I went out early one morning to find male Southern Red Bishops positioned on top of reeds, puffing themselves up and frantically trying to out-sing each other to attract a mate. This one was putting his heart and soul into it.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Ann Pacheco
Species: Northern Cardinal
Location: Santa Clara Ranch, Edinburg, TX
Camera: Canon EOS-1D X with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens; 1/3200 second at f/7.1; ISO 1000
Story Behind the Shot: On a bird photography trip to South Texas, I was nervous about being in the field for steady 104-degree days. I brought every cooling device with me I could. But after a day of photographing songbirds from a blind, the heat stress I saw in the birds eclipsed my own discomfort. The blind allowed me to take photographs next to a small manmade pool. When individuals like this female cardinal cautiously approached the water’s edge, I found myself rooting for them to drink and bathe to cool down.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Michael Herdering
Species: Allen's Hummingbird
Location: Arcadia, CA
Camera: Pentax K-50 with SMC Pentax-A 70-210 f4 lens; 1/2000 second at f/13; ISO 4000
Story Behind the Shot: I’ve been photographing hummingbirds in my backyard for more than a decade, sometimes shooting a thousand images of Allen's and Anna's Hummingbirds a day and capturing the rare visit from a Rufous or Black-chinned Hummingbird. I set up a camera in our garden and use a feature that takes an image anytime a subject comes into focus so I can get photos like this, with a bird in flight, looking at the camera and exposing its beautiful metallic throat feathers.
Category: Professional
Photographer: Kevin Lohman
Species: Snowy Egret
Location: Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz, CA
Camera: Nikon D850 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens; 1/1600 second at f/9; ISO 360
Story Behind the Shot: This Snowy Egret caught my attention because whenever another bird got too close to its territory, it would dance and flap its wings to chase off the intruder. I set up my tripod close to the ground with a telephoto lens and started shooting. When another bird got between us, I had a great view of the aggressive egret running straight at me.
Category: Youth
Photographer: David Farlow
Species: Sanderling
Location: Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz, CA
Camera: Pentax K-5 with Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM lens; 1/3000 second at f/9.5; ISO 800
Story Behind the Shot: I watched this flock of Sanderlings as they ran along the shoreline looking for food. When a wave receded, they would run closer to the water to grab a quick meal in the wet sand. Then, as another wave crashed, they would run back toward the land as fast as their little legs could carry them. This tiny Sanderling was having a particularly hard time getting back quickly enough to avoid an exceptionally large wave.
Category: Youth
Photographer: Tobias Yoder
Species: Least Bittern
Location: Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX
Camera: Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens; 1/1000 second at f/5.6; ISO 160
Story Behind the Shot: While walking around the edge of a large pond, I noticed this little Least Bittern standing low on one of the reeds. I knew he was fishing, so I approached very slowly so as not to disturb him. The sunlight filtered through the reeds, providing a warm light. I wanted to frame the bird between the reeds and capture the focus of this tiny fisherman.
Category: Youth
Photographer: Zachary Gray
Species: Northern Bobwhite
Location: Laguna Seca Ranch, Hidalgo County, TX
Camera: Canon EOS 70D with Canon EF 100-400mm lens; 1/1250 second at f/11; ISO 1600
Story Behind the Shot: I spent the morning at a ranch in southern Texas taking pictures from a blind. At one point, a Northern Bobwhite male came to drink and quickly left. He must have been scoping out the surroundings because he soon returned with his mate and five chicks. The chicks ran around, drinking and hiding in the brush while their parents watched over them. In the midst of the chaos, the magic happened! All the birds lined up in front of the water for a family portrait.
Category: Youth
Photographer: Will Hilscher
Species: Red-winged Blackbird
Location: Granger Lake, Williamson County, TX
Camera: Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens; 1/1000 second at f/5.6; ISO 125
Story Behind the Shot: On a May hike through a grassy field, I witnessed swarms of mayflies buzzing all around me and was perturbed by the great number that chose to land on me. In winter, Red-winged Blackbirds flock by the hundreds in the area, but by late May there are far fewer birds. I was relieved to see one Red-winged Blackbird still around, gorging on the excess of mayflies.
Category: Youth
Photographer: Max Nichols
Species: Yellow-rumped Warbler
Location: Clovis, CA
Camera: Nikon D850 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR lens; 1/2000 second at f/4; ISO 900
Story Behind the Shot: As the sun was setting, I waited on the leaf-covered ground for warblers and sparrows to descend and begin foraging for insects and berries. I positioned myself so that the light would be behind the birds as they landed. After waiting for several minutes I captured this shot of a Yellow-rumped Warbler, its tongue extended, in the golden light.
Category: Professional
Photographer: Scott Dere
Species: Snowy Owl
Location: Jones Beach State Park, Wantagh, NY
Camera: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens; 1/1000 second at f/6.3; ISO 3200
Story Behind the Shot: Early in the morning when the light was still blue and I could just see the path in front of me, I made my way to the open beach. As the light got brighter, I spotted this owl standing on the shore. I had a tense walk as I passed the bird to set up my shot as low as possible, with the camera angled to capture the glow of the sun reflecting off the Atlantic.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Jocelyn Anderson
Species: Pileated Woodpecker
Location: Kensington Metropark, Milford, MI
Camera: Nikon D500 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm lens; 1/1250 second at f/5.6; ISO 3600
Story Behind the Shot: I was watching two male Pileated Woodpeckers when this one landed on a thin branch close by. The branch was too small for him, so he swung upside down and hung there for a few seconds. He flapped his wings to right himself—the moment I took this shot—only to swing back upside down. This happened several times. Finally, the other woodpecker flew right by him, spooking him so he took off from the branch.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Logan Southall
Species: Black-necked Stilt
Location: Moss Landing Wildlife Area, Moss Landing, CA
Camera: Nikon D5200 with AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens; 1/1600 second at f/6.3; ISO 400
Story Behind the Shot: On a sunny California morning I visited the salt ponds of a nearby wildlife area with a friend. Terns blotted out the sky and pelicans soared like airplanes, but the stilts reflected in the water are what caught our eyes. A small group had been scared off by a gull and flew a short lap around the pond before returning. I got this shot moments before the birds touched down in the water.
Category: Professional
Photographer: Scott Dere
Species: Great Gray Owl
Location: Sax Zim Bog, Toivola, MN
Camera: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens; 1/200 second at f/4; ISO 3200
Story Behind the Shot: I had checked this field for a large owl a few times after noticing imprints of wings in the pristine, snowy field. She didn’t appear until the last moments of light. She perched on a short spruce tree like a holiday ornament presiding over the field. The face of a Great Gray Owl is like a radar dish that can detect rodents beneath a foot of snow and pinpoint their location with incredible accuracy. The tree gave her an even greater advantage, reducing the time she needed to pounce on unsuspecting quarry below.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Matt Williams
Species: Sharp-tailed Grouse
Location: Rudyard, MI
Camera: Nikon D600 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens; 1/800 second at f/6.3; ISO 640
Story Behind the Shot: I lay in a snowbank with other photographers on a guided trip, covered in white sheets in hopes of getting photos of Sharp-tailed Grouse near where the landowners had put out seed for the birds. After a long, cold wait, we had just decided to give up and pack away our gear when the birds emerged from the cover of spruce trees and came running toward us. They scooted on their bellies through the deep drifts, spraying snow as they ran.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Gavin Wong
Species: Bald Eagle
Location: Delta, British Columbia
Camera: Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens; 1/800 second at f/6.4; ISO 320
Story Behind the Shot: Every year thousands of eagles visit the lower mainland of British Columbia to gorge on spawned-out salmon at the nearby rivers. On a cold day, I saw at least 10 eagles in this tree. I panned the camera to follow the action and snapped away when I saw an interloper fly in, drawing the birds’ gazes in the same direction. I’m happy none of the branches obstructed their heads.
Category: Youth
Photographer: Ian Hearn
Species: Northern Flicker
Location: Muddy Run Park, Holtwood, PA
Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 USM lens; 1/500 second at f/4.5; ISO 1600
Story Behind the Shot: I spotted this Northern Flicker overhead with its typical woodpecker-like wingbeats and undulating flight. On an impulse I raised my camera and fired off several shots. This one is my favorite because the flicker’s orange-tinted wings match the leaves of the trees.
Category: Youth
Photographer: Tobias Yoder
Species: American Avocet
Location: Windy Point Park, Lake Travis, TX
Camera: Nikon D500 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6 ED VR lens; 1/2000 second at f/5.6; ISO 800
Story Behind the Shot: When I set up this shot of an American Avocet I wanted the image to match the feel and character of the bird. The quiet light from overcast skies, whitish color scheme, and diffused foreground and background created a subtle and muted image that seemed to fit the tranquility of an avocet.
Category: Amateur
Photographer: Liron Gertsman
Species: Red-throated Loon
Location: Anchorage, AK
Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Canon EF 400mm IS II USM lens; 1/6400 second at f/5.6; ISO 125
Story Behind the Shot: While vis