Audubon Photography Awards

Our 15 Favorite Videos From the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards

Take a moment to enjoy this year's lineup of entertaining avians while learning the story behind each clip.

If a photo captures a 1,000 words, what about a video? The entrants to the video category of our 2023 Audubon Photography Awards endeavored to find out, recording short yet engrossing clips featuring a wide array of birds and their behaviors from around the world. 

While none of these videos captured the top honors—you can see the 2023 APA winners here—they are still more than worthy of our attention, exemplifying the variety of amazing moments that can be captured in nature with planning, patience, quick reflexes, and yes, a bit of luck. From a frenzy of feasting Bald Eagles in Canada to a Village Weaver in Africa busily working on its abode, the footage featured here provides a compelling window into the avian world. 

Once you're done watching these videos, be also sure to check out our Top 100 images from this year's photography awards, along with our favorite female bird shots. Meanwhile, if you get the itch to start recording videos yourself, our helpful tutorial is a good place to start. And if you're just getting into photography, use our guides to learn more about gear options, tips and how-tos, and photography ethics. Who knows—maybe next year it will be your video that leaves us awestruck! 

American Flamingo by Karen Willes 

Location: St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida  
Camera: Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 100-500 4.5-7.1 L IS USM at 324 mm; 1/4000 seconds at f/11; ISO 2500
Story Behind the Video: On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael brought Category 5 devastation to the Florida Panhandle. On October 31, a lone American Flamingo was spotted at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, likely transported there by the storm. The appearance of the wild flamingo caused a stir among photographers and birders. Fast forward to 2023: The bird continues to make the refuge its home! Now affectionately known as “Pinky,” it can usually be found feeding, preening, or sleeping in one of the refuge pools. On the morning I took this video, Pinky was closer than usual, and the lack of wind made for a beautiful reflection in Lighthouse Pool. Arriving visitors and other photographers setting up equipment made getting the shot a challenge. To capture Pinky’s feeding shuffle, including its "circle dance," was amazing! 

Bald Eagles by Liron Gertsman 

Location: Comox-Strathcona, British Columbia, Canada 
Camera: Canon EOS R5 with a Canon 500mm f4 II and a Canon 1.4x teleconverter, version III; 1/250 seconds at f5.6; ISO 800
Story Behind the Video: Each year, Bald Eagles gather by the hundreds near Vancouver Island to feast on hake. The fish are forced to the surface by strong upwelling and currents, which over-inflate their swim bladders and leave them vulnerable to predators. The natural phenomenon attracts huge numbers of eagles, making for a breathtaking site. As the eagles took to the sky to fish one afternoon, I captured this slow-motion video of the action. With so many eagles in the air, deciding where to point my lens was difficult. For this video, I aimed in the direction that allowed me to showcase the beautiful coastal environment. Filming handheld from a boat, I took extra care to hold my camera and lens as still as possible!

Common Loons by Harry Collins 

Location: Maine, United States
Camera: Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm at 400mm; 1/125 seconds at f7.1 and 60FPS; ISO 100
Story Behind the Video: One of the more difficult subjects to film are Common Loons because it's best done by kayak. Keeping the camera steady and getting clean audio is always an enormous challenge as there is a lot of ambient noise and, of course, the kayak is rocking. This clip was the product of several years of practice coming together with the luck of a quiet morning. It's always important to keep a safe distance to not disturb the loons, as they are very protective of their young. Fortunately, having spent a lot of time around this pair, they will often approach me in the kayak, not bothered by my presence. 

Laughing Gulls by Tim Nicol

Location: Matanzas Inlet, St. Augustine, Florida 
Camera: Nikon D850 with a Tamron 150-600mm; 1/2000 seconds at f6.3; ISO 320 
Story Behind the Video: I shot this video at one of our favorite places in Florida to sit on the beach and watch and photograph the many shorebirds in the area. There were a bunch of kids running around the beach when to my left I noticed a girl walking toward this big flock of gulls and terns. I had my camera mounted on a tripod, so I quickly turned and focussed on the birds as they were about to take off. Admittedly, we were slightly annoyed with the kids for chasing the birds, but I made the best of it and hit record just as the birds were about to take off. I love how the one lone bird stayed at the very end. 

Northern Harrier by Steve Chu 

Location: Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, Wallkill, New York 
Camera: Nikon Z9 with a Nikon 800mm 5.6; 1/320 at f5.6: ISO 400 
Story Behind the Video: I was out on a trail last January. It was a Friday and looked like it was going to rain, so I was the only person in the refuge. Usually there are many photographers around, beveryone stayed away because of the windy weather and low light, which makes picture taking more difficult. But there was plenty of light for video. I walked down the trail to the farthest location and waited, stationing myself in a spot where I could focus through the high vegetation. Not much was happening, but a Northern Harrier was flying into wind looking for food. When it did spot something, it dove down and pulled the prey from the brush. As the bird started to fly away, what looked like a vole or mouse was able to free itself and fall to the ground. I was happy to capture this moment. 

Palm Warbler by Sonja Pedersen 

Location: Lake Dan Preserve, Odessa, Florida 
Camera: Sony DSC-RX10M4 with a built in Sony 24-600mm f/2.4-4 lens at 599mm; 1/250 sec at f/4; ISO 640
Story Behind the Video: Nearly every morning I go for a walk with my camera on a nearby nature preserve. On this particular morning, I noticed this little Palm Warbler on the ground wrestling a wiggly caterpillar. I was fascinated by the bird's persistence and decided to capture the moment using the high frame rate mode on my camera, which really slows down the motion. Just as I was about to begin filming, the bird jumped onto a barbed-wire fence and started whipping the caterpillar against the wire. When filming in a high frame rate, you get about 4 seconds, so timing is everything. I was able to capture the bird banging the caterpillar so hard that the bug's green guts came flying out. I’m pretty sure that was the bird's goal before devouring its prey, which I witnessed just after my 4 seconds were up! 

Red-winged Blackbird by Simon d'Entremont 

Location: Miners Marsh, Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada 
Camera: Canon R5 with a Canon 500mm f4 II and a Canon 1.4x teleconverter, version III; 1/250 seconds at f5.6; ISO 800
Story Behind the Video:I had been lucky enough to photograph a bird’s breath before, but I had never gotten it on video. I planned out the day to try and capture this exact scene carefully, as I needed 5 winning conditions: a singing bird, cold weather, no wind, backlit sun, and a dark background to show off the bird's breath. I was fortunate enough that the conditions held up when I arrived at the marsh, and lucky for me Red-winged Blackbirds like to perch on cattails to sing and establish their territories, making for a beautiful scene. Sometimes their breath has green and red tones, which this one did—an added bonus.

Reddish Egret by Tim Timmis

Location: Bolivar Flats Audubon Shorebird Sanctuary, Port Bolivar, Texas 
Camera: Canon R3 with a Canon 500mm F4 IS II and a 1.4X teleconverter  
Story Behind the Video: While lying on the ground taking shorebird photos with my ground pod, this white morph Reddish Egret landed nearby and walked right in front of me. I switched my camera to slow-motion video and started recording at 700mm, as the bird was very close. The wader spotted a fish, quickly took off after it, and caught its prey right in front of me. It was amazing to record this sequence in slow motion, including the egret's typical flip of the fish before swallowing it. It’s not very often they are facing me for this behavior, so getting it on video was special. 

Secretarybird by Sonja Pedersen

Location: Etosha National Park, Kunene region, Namibia 
Camera: Sony DSC-RX10M4 with a built in Sony 24-600mm f/2.4-4 lens; 1/1000 sec at f/5.6; ISO 100 
Story Behind the Video: In September and October of 2022, I was fortunate to spend a month in South Africa and visit two well-known national parks. Etosha National Park is where I filmed this endangered Secretarybird. I was one of eight passengers in a 4x4 safari vehicle with a local guide. We were touring the park and observing animals when our guide pointed out the Secretarybird. He stopped so we could take pictures, but I decided to film the bird instead and was lucky to capture it hunting by stomping on what seemed to be an insect. It was challenging to keep the image steady while holding my fully zoomed-out camera. Meanwhile, the vehicle would start bouncing around as others positioned themselves for a better view. I did the best I could and was happy to capture this incredible moment of this unique bird.

Short-eared Owl by Steven Chu 

Location: Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, Wallkill, New York 
Camera: Nikon Z9 with a Nikon 800mm 6.3; 1/250 at f6.3; ISO 1000
Story Behind the Video: I took this photograph on a day in March. Since December, I'd spent more than 30 days on the trails trying to get good footage of the refuge's Short-eared Owls. So, with all of the time spent observing, I used my knowledge to put myself where I thought this majestic bird may fly toward me. I have been wrong many days, but this day I was right. It was nearing sunset, and I was able to film this owl flying in my direction while looking for a meal. 

Spotted Sandpiper by Eric Youngblood

Location: Whittier, Alaska 
Camera: Sony alpha 1 with a Sony 200-600G in 1.5x crop mode; 1/250 sec at f/9; ISO  800
Story Behind the Video: As the salmon run peaked, the mouth of this creek met with the tides of Prince William Sound, leaving the water’s edge littered with decaying carcasses. A large number of insects attracted to the dead fish meant that I was able to observe this Spotted Sandpiper feed for hours. Its characteristic teetering slowed as it readied to snipe insects off the rocks. I moved to Alaska 14 years ago and fell in love with wildlife photography, leading to a love of birding. I now find my passion leading me into filmmaking and hope to collaborate with conservation organizations to connect people with the natural world through film. 

Village Weaver by Rhoda Gerig 

Location: Great Rift Valley Golf Resort, Naivasha, Kenya 
Camera: Canon R5 with a Canon 500mm f.4 and a Canon 2X extender; 1/64 sec at f/11; ISO 640 
Story Behind the Video: While staying with friends in Naivasha, they suggested going to their golf club to take photos of the many animals that frequent the golf course. I saw warthogs, zebras, impalas, and a variety of birds, but the thing that I was most happy to find was a weaver colony. From one spot, I had the opportunity to observe multiple nests in various stages of the nest-building process. The birds would start by weaving a circle and then keep adding to it until they had a round nest. The thing that first caught my attention about this Village Weaver was that it looked like it was doing splits while holding onto two leaves. It wasn’t until after I had taken a few photos that I noticed it was weaving the the circle that would become the opening to its nest. That is when I switched to video to capture the amazing process.

Black-backed Woodpecker by Benjamin Clock 

Location: Willow, Alaska 
Camera: Sony A7R II with a Canon 500mm f4 and a Canon 1.4x teleconverter; 1/60 sec at f/4: ISO 100 
Story Behind the Video: I visited a woodland in central Alaska a season after a forest fire swept through the region. Most spruce trees were charred and dead but life was returning—especially in the form of many nesting woodpeckers that have an affinity for recently burned woodlands. The Black-backed Woodpecker colonizes and nests in such areas due to the proliferation of beetle larvae thriving in the charred trunks. Nesting there assures a healthy storehouse of food for their young. Walking through the ashy skeletons of fallen trees, you could hear the faint scratching of beetle larvae burrowing inside the burned trunks. Woodpeckers called from all directions, and active nest cavities of several species were seen everywhere. At some nests, like the one featured here, adults returned every few minutes to feed their young nestlings. 

Northern Harrier by Tim Timmis 

Location: Bolivar Flats Audubon Shorebird Sanctuary, Port Bolivar, Texas 
Camera: Canon R3 with a Canon 500mm F4 IS I with a 1.4X teleconverter  
Story Behind the Video: While lying on the wet mudflats with my ground pod taking photos of shorebirds, the birds got spooked and launched. This usually means that someone is walking nearby or there is a raptor around. It was a very cold and windy morning, so my bet was on a raptor. I looked toward the shoreline and spotted this female Northern Harrier. I quickly switched my video mode to slow motion and focused on her as she hovered in the wind with the Bolivar lighthouse in the background, which was very cool. She then surprised me by hovering over the water, almost as if she was looking for fish. I’ve never heard of a Northern Harrier catching a fish, but it was very interesting behavior to witness and video. 

Snow Geese by Ben Pierce 

Location: Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area, Montana 
Camera: Sony FS5 with a Nikon 500mm F/4; 1/50 second at f/5.6; ISO 100  
Story Behind the Video: Each March, tens of thousands of Snow Geese arrive at Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area (the WMA spells its name without an “e”) in western Montana during their annual migration north. Fields to the east of the management area are used for grain production and provide ample foraging for the birds as they rest. During the day, huge rafts of Snow Geese rest on the lake, situated at the foot of the Rocky Mountain Front. Raptors prey on the geese, and their presence will stir the flocks into stunning eruptions that begin with a single goose and proceed like an ocean wave. This shot was captured during an eruption initiated by a Bald Eagle. I wanted to capture the sound as well as the visual spectacle of the birds overtaking the view of the distant mountains. Panning the camera provided the extra element of motion to capture the drama of the moment. 

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