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2020 Bird Portrait contest finalists

In late 2020, BirdWatching received more than 700 photos entered into our Bird Portrait contest from hundreds of photographers. Thanks to everyone who entered! The selection of images was stellar, as all of our previous contests have been. The judges had a challenging task! Today we are proud to present the 12 finalist photos, featured in the following slideshow. 

We’ll announce the three winning images here on our website tomorrow, and they’ll be featured in our May/June issue.

Harlequin Duck by John Carelli

Harlequin Duck by John Carelli
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If you thought this Harlequin Duck was sitting on a rock along the shore of an ocean, think again. John Carelli of Green Cove Springs, Florida, explains where and how he took the photo:

"LeHardy Rapids is in Yellowstone National Park near the Yellowstone Lake outlet. The rapids are the result of a significant drop and boulders in this relatively wide part of the river. Boulders influence the course of the rapids, which is perfect habitat for the Harlequin Duck. The Harlequins like to feed in these turbulent waters, bobbing up and down for food. This is a male Harlequin that was resting after some very active feeding. His mate was nearby, still feeding. I wanted to capture the turbulence of the water, with the serenity of the Harlequin resting on the rock. After many failed attempts, this Harlequin cooperated and remained still for me to capture him and the movement of the water."

Equipment and settings: Sony a9, Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens, 2x Teleconverter, Really Right Stuff Tripod, Flexshooter Pro Tripod Head, Sony RM-VPR1 Remote Commander. Exposure: 1/8 sec at f/32, ISO 100.


Many thanks to our panel of guest judges: our Founding Editor and “Amazing Birds” columnist Eldon Greij; author, radio host, and Contributing Editor Laura Erickson; and Outdoor Photographer Editor Wes Pitts. 

View the 12 honorable mentions from our 2020 Bird Portrait contest

View the finalists from our 2019 Bird Portrait contest


UPDATE, MARCH 12: We have announced the winners!

First place: Cedar Waxwing

Second place: Elegant Trogon

Third place: Wood Duck

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