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2021 Bird Portrait Contest finalists

Last fall, we sent out a call for entries to our 2021 Bird Portrait Contest, here on our website. And, wow, did bird photographers deliver! We received the most entries ever — 979 — since we started hosting contests a few years ago!

Entries included images of owls, hummingbirds, ducks, eagles, pelicans, warblers, toucans, and more — from hundreds of photographers. Thanks to everyone who entered! The selection of images was outstanding, as all of our previous contests have been. The judges had a challenging task! Today we are proud to present the finalist photos, featured in the following slideshow. We’ll announce the winners on Friday, February 25. 

Each caption tells the story behind the photo, from the photographers themselves, and it lists the camera gear they used and their settings. Enjoy! 

Red-billed Oxpecker by Chuck Murphy

Red-billed Oxpecker by Chuck Murphy

There are times when less is more. As in, you don’t need to see an entire zebra to know it’s a zebra. Since the focus of this photo was the oxpecker with his vivid eye and bright red bill, I thought it would only detract from the photo and make the bird too small if I’d shown the entire zebra. I really like simple compositions and uncluttered backgrounds, and for me, this photo achieves that goal – there’s just nothing else that can be taken out.

Gear and settings: Canon 1DX, Canon EF600mm II with 1.4x teleconverter (equivalent to 840mm). 1/400th, f/8.0, ISO 100. Handheld, sitting in a safari car.

Can’t get enough? Here are the 10 honorable mention images from the 2021 Bird Portrait Contest! 

Enter our current contest, the 2022 BirdWatching Photography Awards

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