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2021 BirdWatching Photography Awards finalists

This past spring, we conducted our latest photo contest, the 2021 BirdWatching Photography Awards, here on our website. We received more than 770 entries — images of owls, eagles, hummingbirds, cranes, and passerines, among others — 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 finalist photos, featured in the following slideshow. 

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

We’ll announce the three winning images here on our website on Tuesday, August 10, and they’ll be featured in our September/October 2021 issue. Enjoy! 

Least Terns by Tina McManus

Least Terns by Tina McManus

Least Terns are one of my favorite birds, and when they start hatching their chicks, I’m always on the lookout for a photo opportunity. Once the chicks hatch, there is only a day or two before the adults take them back into the vegetation.

You have to be very quiet and still around terns, as they’re very protective of their young and will become agitated if you’re not. I hunkered down outside the roped-off area near a nest with chicks and waited. After about an hour, one of the adults brought a fish and I was able to get this image.

Gear: Canon 7D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter, Skimmer Ground Pod.

Many thanks to our panel of guest judges: our Founding Editor and “Amazing Birds” columnist Eldon Greij; author, radio host, and Contributing Editor Laura EricksonOutdoor Photographer Editor Wes Pitts; and Imaging Resource Editor William Brawley. 

View the 2021 BirdWatching Photography Awards honorable mentions

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