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.
Here is what Ken Archer of Twin Falls, Idaho, says about this striking portrait of a Short-eared Owl:
"During the winter months, several species of raptors and owls often winter in the Skagit Valley of northwestern Washington state. This particular winter season it seemed like more Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers were wintering in the area than usual. The hawks and owls regularly hunt in the same fields in search of mice, voles and other small animals. They are fiercely competitive.
"This particular owl was perched on this unique tree branch resting and preening when he suddenly spotted another owl hunting nearby, offering me this unique portrait as he intently watched the other owl hunt in his territory. Soon after this photo was taken, he took off to confront the intruder. "
Equipment and settings: Canon 7D MkII camera body, a Canon 600mm f/4 lens & 1.4x teleconverter, mounted on a Gitzo tripod with a BH-55 ball head. Manual mode, 1/400; f/8, ISO 800.
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.
UPDATE, MARCH 12: We have announced the winners!