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2021 Bird Portrait Contest third place: Piping Plovers

Bird Portrait Contest third place
Piping Plovers. © 2021 Tina McManus/BirdWatching Bird Portrait Contest

Third place in our 2021 Bird Portrait Contest goes to Tina McManus of Beverly, Massachusetts, for her photo of a Piping Plover with a chick dozing under its wing feathers.

McManus made the photo in June 2020 on a beach near Ipswich, a coastal town in northeastern Massachusetts.

“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,” she recalls. “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.”

Brian E. Small, one of our judges and a professional bird photographer whose images illustrate our “ID Tips” column in each issue of BirdWatching, says the photo immediately caught his attention.

“I was drawn into the intimacy of the moment between the adult and chick,” he says. “The image gives a lovely sense of the protective instincts of the adult and at the same time, the downy comfort of the youngster buried in the feathers. These elements, along with the perfect composition, beautiful lighting, and the overall soft, pastel tones of the photograph make this a winner for me. Well done!!”

McManus used a Canon 7D Mark II camera body with a Canon 500mm f4 lens and a 1.4x teleconverter. Settings were ISO 2000, f/7.1, 1/500 sec.

Many thanks to our panel of guest judges: author, radio host, and Contributing Editor Laura Erickson; our former editor Chuck Hagner, the director of Bird City Wisconsin; our former photo editor Ernie Mastroianni; professional bird photographer Brian E. SmallOutdoor Photographer Editor Wes Pitts; and Imaging Resource Managing Editor William Brawley. 

View more photos by Tina McManus on her website and Instagram

View the finalists

View the honorable mentions

Enter your photos in our BirdWatching Photography Awards Contest

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