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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! 

Piping Plovers by Tina McManus

Piping Plovers by Tina McManus

On the beach before sunrise, I was walking along looking for terns and Piping Plovers when I spied this parent plover nestled in the sand. Lying down, I slowly crawled toward the bird (keeping outside the roped-off area) until I got reasonably close. At first, I didn’t notice the tiny chick nestled under the parent’s wings. When it caught my attention, I moved a little bit and was able to capture both the parent and the sleepy little baby. In their first week, baby plovers are unable to regulate their body temperature and are brooded by either parent in order to survive.

Gear and settings: Canon 7D Mk II, Canon 500mm f4 lens with 1.4x TC. Exposure data: 7.1 Aperture, 1/500 sec, ISO 2000.

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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