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Audubon photography awards show breathtaking beauty of birds

Last updated on: July 31, 2019 08:55 IST
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It’s another year of beautiful birds for the Audubon Photography awards.

The Grand Prize went to Kathrin Swoboda for her photo of a Red-winged Blackbird.

The National Audubon Society is an American non-profit environmental organisation dedicated to conservation. It protects birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. 

Captions for the stunning photographs have been provided by


See all of the winners below, and if you are still craving more avian photography.

(Please click on the images for a full-screen resolution)


Grand Prize Winner

I visit this park near my home to photograph blackbirds on cold mornings, often aiming to capture the "smoke rings" that form from their breath as they sing out. On this occasion, I arrived early on a frigid day and heard the cry of the blackbirds all around the boardwalk. This particular bird was very vociferous, singing long and hard. I looked to set it against the dark background of the forest, shooting to the east as the sun rose over the trees, backlighting the vapor. 
Photograph: Kathrin Swoboda/Audubon Photography Awards/2019 Grand Prize Winner

Professional Winner

I spent a number of cold spring mornings photographing the courting display of the Greater Sage-Grouse from a blind on the perimeter of the lek. Along with the strutting, I watch for the dominance fights between males. The two contestants sit side by side until, upon some invisible cue, they suddenly throw blows, hitting each other with their wings. This photo, captured on hard snowpack, shows the power they exhibit when they are fighting for mates.
Photograph: Elizabeth Boehm/Audubon Photography Awards/2019 Professional Winner

Amateur Winner

A white-necked Jacobin. On my fifth trip to Costa Rica, my favourite birding spots produced a few measly sightings. So I drove six hours to a reforestation site, which turned out to be well worth the trip. For an hour I photographed a valiant troop of White-necked Jacobins consuming nectar from heliconias that swayed and bobbed in a forceful wind. I could barely breathe as I snapped -- I felt that I, too, was fighting to hang on!
Photograph: Mariam Kamal/Audubon Photography Awards/2019 Amateur Winner

Fisher Prize Winner

On a steep, windy slope of Saunders Island, several breeding colonies of Black-browed Albatrosses were tending their chicks and squawking at the neighbours to urge them to respect the territories. As I sat watching the birds conducting their daily activities, I started to notice the simple, elegant beauty of the adults’ eyes. After several positions looking for a clear view and a good light angle, I took this shot.
Photograph: Ly Dang/Audubon Photography Awards/2019 Fisher Prize Winner

Plants for Birds Winner

Soon after moving to San Diego last year, I noticed a pair of orioles that frequented the California fan palm in my backyard. When I saw the female gathering palm fibers for a nest, I grabbed my camera. I love this shot; it shows the relationship between two native species and illustrates the natural beauty to be appreciated even in a city. And the radiating palm fronds behind the female give a sense of radiance to her diligent efforts.
Photograph: Michael Schulte/Audubon Photography Awards/2019 Plants for Birds Winner

Youth Winner

Travelling through Alaska I saw Horned and Tufted Puffins from afar, always hoping to get closer. I got my chance at the SeaLife Center. Amid the chaos of native birds swimming, fishing, and zipping past me, I waited for hours for the perfect shot. At last I spotted this secluded puffin in a moment of stillness, preening its feathers, providing a glimpse into a seemingly private moment.
Photograph: Sebastian Velasquez/Audubon Photography Awards/2019 Youth Winner

Amateur Honorable Mention

A storm was on the horizon when I arrived at one of my favourite wetlands. These herons immediately grabbed my attention: The male, obviously attempting to entice the female, was doing a stretch display. I love this mating ritual and decided to spend some time with them. When serious bill duels erupted between the pair, I was fascinated by their intense expressions as they sparred. The drama was further heightened as, thunder rumbling in the distance, the wind picked up, accentuating their long, flowing plumes.
Photograph: Melissa Rowell/Audubon Photography Awards/2019 Amateur Honorable Mention

Professional Honorable Mention

I had spent the day photographing foxes and was panning with this kit running with its prey when an unmistakable cry made me look up. I just knew the eagle racing our way was after the fox’s rabbit. I expected to have only a split second to capture the theft in one explosive frame; instead the eagle snagged the fox and rabbit, carrying both 20 feet off the ground. After eight seconds it dropped the fox, seemingly unharmed, and flew away with its stolen dinner.
Photograph: Kevin Ebi/Audubon Photography Awards/2019 Professional Honorable Mention

Plants for Birds Honorable Mention

The normally elusive Purple Gallinule comes into the open when fire flag blooms, climbing the plant to feed on its flowers. I spotted this one making its way up the plant mid-morning on an overcast day, eating as it went. I set up with my monopod and camera, watching, waiting. When it reached the top, I captured images as it moved from stem to stem, moving quickly, side to side, up and down, choosing the best angle, and ultimately getting this photo of the bird mid-snack.
Photograph: Joseph Przybyla/Audubon Photography Awards/2019 Plants for Birds Honorable Mention

Youth Honorable Mention

At sunset the Dunn Ranch Prairie becomes a field of golden grasses, which provided a perfect setting for this male as he perched briefly for a curious glance at my camera. The robotic tone of his song was echoed by dozens of other Bobolinks as they flew overhead. I was almost too excited to take the photo, but I secured a burst of photos before he took off, flying far out over the grasses.
Photograph: Garrett Sheets/Audubon Photography Awards/2019 Youth Honorable Mention



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