In addition to the three winning photos from the 2019 BirdWatching Photography Awards, we’re thrilled to present this gallery of 22 finalists:
Photographer: Janet Niemann
Location and date: Waukee, Iowa, May 7, 2019.
Description: Not far from my house there is an Iowa Conservation Wetland Preserve. Often, I will venture out there and photograph mammals, ducks, raptors, and birds. It is my little piece of heaven! On this particular day, I was lying in wait to see what might walk by or fly in. Being the month of May, I was hoping to see some migrant birds. At about 3:15 I saw this beautiful male Yellow Warbler fly in. So, I made sure my camera settings were correct and laid my tripod on the ground and started to observe and shoot this tiny little beauty. I am mainly a bird photographer. It is always interesting to me to observe and learn from my subject’s behavior.
The warbler settled in to hunt in the southeast corner of this marshy area that was chock-full of gnats. I was truly amazed at what I was observing! The warbler chose this bare, dead weed stem to hunt from. He would hold on to this bare weed stem with his feet, stretch out as far as he could, and without letting go of the weed stem, he would flap his wings to get an air current flowing. In getting the air current flowing, it would draw the gnats in close enough where he could grab them and consume them. It was unbelievable! I feel so incredibly blessed to have not only witnessed this behavior but to have documented it as well. What an unforgettable afternoon!
Gear and settings: Nikon D500, 600mm AF-S Nikkor f/4E FL VR lens; f/4.5, ISO 3200, 1/4000.
Thanks to our judges: Matt Mendenhall, editor of BirdWatching; Wes Pitts, editor of Outdoor Photographer; Marie Read, an award-winning nature photographer based near Ithaca, New York; and Brian E. Small, a professional nature photographer based in Los Angeles whose photos illustrate our “ID Tips” column.