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2019 Bird Portrait Contest second place: Red Crossbill

© 2013 Ken Archer

Second place in our 2019 Bird Portrait Contest goes to Ken Archer of Twin Falls, Idaho, for this engaging photo of a Red Crossbill. He shot it in his backyard in May 2013.

Here’s what Ken told us about the image:

“During the spring of 2013, a flock of Red Crossbills had discovered our bird feeder in the backyard, and for three or four weeks the flock would visit the feeder a couple times a day. I usually just enjoy watching the birds in my backyard and seldom photograph them, but the rare visit by these animated little beauties convinced me to spend some quality time photographing them.

“I set up my camera with a 600mm lens near a feeder that is purposely arranged near an old vine maple tree. The group of crossbills would intermingle and patiently wait among the lower branches of this beautiful tree for their turn at the feeder. A couple of the birds weren’t so patient though and would often flip upside down on their perch, seemingly to get a head start toward the feeder when a spot opened up.

“I could have easily moved in closer and used a smaller lens to photograph the birds, but I believe that using the longer lens gave me the distance to allow the birds to become more comfortable with my presence and afford me some nice opportunities to photograph their natural behavior and interactions. And capture a few unusual portraits, like this one.”

He used the following gear and settings: Canon 1D Mark IV camera body with a Canon 600mm f4 lens mounted on a Gitzo Tripod with a BH-55 ball head. Manual mode with a spot meter, settings 1/200; f 7.1; ISO 1250.

Ken’s photo was among more than 1,000 entries that we received during the contest period last fall and was among the 12 finalists we announced last week. Check the links below for the first- and third-place images as well as our finalists and honorable mentions. 

2019 Bird Portrait Contest first place

2019 Bird Portrait Contest third place

2019 Bird Portrait Contest finalists

2019 Bird Portrait Contest honorable mentions

Thanks to our judges: acclaimed wildlife photographer/authors Dudley Edmondson and Gerrit Vyn, Outdoor Photographer Editor Wes Pitts, and BirdWatching Editor Matt Mendenhall.  

Learn how to enter your photos in the 2020 BirdWatching Photography Awards

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