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!
Overnight temperatures dropped below freezing and turned the water in our birdbath into an ice block. So, my wife replaced the ice with some warm water for the various birds that come to our backyard feeder. Immediately, a group of Pine Siskins flocked to the bath to get a drink and enjoy the steam. The early morning sun was rising and backlit the scene beautifully, so I decided to get my telephoto lens and attempt a shot. The birdbath sits only about 15 feet from our back door, so I knelt down and slowly cracked open the door enough to get the lens through without disturbing the visitors. By the time I finally got set up, only one bird remained soaking in the steam. I only took a handful of shots before the bird left, but this one shot of the bird turned to his right with the flowing steam illuminated by the morning sun was easily my favorite of the series and epitomized the serenity of the scene.
Gear: Nikon Z6 II camera with a Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF lens and Nikon FTZ Adapter.
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; Outdoor Photographer Editor Wes Pitts; and Imaging Resource Editor William Brawley.