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!
I had gotten a new piece of camera gear and wanted to test it out in the field where I regularly photograph Short-eared Owls. I asked a few friends along, but nobody was interested. So, I went into the field alone, got my settings where I thought they should be, and thought I would be doing some test images. Immediately a Short-eared Owl landed in the field directly in front of me, with a vole in his talons. The owl perked up its ears and was very alert, staring in my direction. It became clear that it was alert because a Northern Harrier was fast approaching, and this owl wanted to protect its meal. The owl flew up just as the harrier got very close, and this is the resulting image. The owl successfully scared the harrier off of its meal this day.
Gear: Sony Alpha A1 ILCE1 camera, a 600mm FE f/4 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter, Really Right Stuff Tripod, Promedia Gear Katana Junior Gimbel Head.
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.