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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! 

Eastern Screech-Owl by Cissy Beasley

Eastern Screech-Owl by Cissy Beasley

While I was visiting a ranch in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, the ranch owner took me on a tour of the property — a designated wildlife sanctuary — early one dark morning. We rounded the corner and he stopped. Not sure why, I asked what we were doing. He suggested that I take a look around, and when I did, I somehow managed to spot this well-camouflaged specimen — much to my delight! The ranch owner had established this nest box with tree bark attached, to provide native cover for the owl's protection. Clearly, this owl was happy to move right in. The thrill of this sighting was unforgettable, and it reminded me that we as landowners and managers can make a positive difference in nature through implementing measures to conserve and protect wildlife.

Gear: Nikon Z7II; Sigma 150-600 f/5-6.3 Contemporary lens.

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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