Our 2020 Bird Portrait contest attracted hundreds of fantastic images. We’re happy to present this slideshow of 12 honorable mention photos, featuring Bald Eagle, Snowy, Great, and Reddish Egrets, and Northern Hawk Owl. Enjoy!
"Sage-grouse are a feathered enigma," writes Alan Krakauer, who took this photo in 2016 on public land in Fremont County, Wyoming. "How can a bird that is imperiled by so many threats be tough enough to survive harsh Wyoming winters subsisting on a dubious diet of desiccated sage leaves? And how do they, when the first hints of spring finally crack the calendar, muster the energy to go all in on their exhausting courtship performance? On one frigid March morning in central Wyoming, I set up in a blind on a sage-grouse lek to contemplate these mysteries. I saw a male striding proudly through a fresh blanket of snow while a neighboring male pivoted away. Ice still clung to the pointed tips of his tail feathers and specially-modified breast feathers in spite of over an hour of vigorous fighting and courtship display. These icy remnants told the story of this male hunkering down in a blowing snow next to some low sagebrush the night before. As I watched his determination through the small viewing window in the blind, I could almost picture him rising in the pre-dawn darkness, shrugging off the snow, and making his way to the lek for yet another morning on the breeding grounds."
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 6D, Tamron 150-600mm f/5.6-6.3 Di VC USD A011 taken at 600mm. No flash. 1/500sec at f/9.0, ISO 1600
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!