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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photographer: Sonja Puhek
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.
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.
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.