Bird Photographer of the Year, an annual international photo competition based in the U.K., is accepting entries for its 2020 competition through November 30. BirdWatching contributor Brian Small and I are two of the judges, and while we wait for the judging process to begin in December, I thought it would be fun to share photos of North American birds that have been honored in past years of the contest. The images in the following slideshow have been submitted over the last four years of the contest. Enjoy!
Thomas Chadwick was the Bronze Award Winner in the Bird Behavior category in 2018 for this image of young Black Skimmer grabbing a parent's bill.
"I have been photographing a little-known Black Skimmer colony for years and this is my favorite photo taken in all that time," he says "Every year I select a nest when the parents are sitting on eggs, and then follow that same nest until the young fledge. I choose one nest because colonies are chaotic; you will miss some shots by pointing the lens at hundreds of birds. At this nest, another chick hatched a day or so before the one depicted. Because of the time advantage, the older chick typically bullied the younger one by always eating first, stealing meals and pecking it until it left the shade cast by the parent. To get out of the Florida heat, the chick often used the shadow I cast from lying down near the parent. I got into position one hour prior to sunrise and lay there for another hour, then a parent flew in directly to the smaller chick and fed it first. It was inches away from me, so I could not get the feeding photo. However, after the chick had gobbled down the fish, I captured it running up to the parent and displaying the behavior pictured."
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 5DS R with Canon EF600mm f/4L IS II USM lens. Focal length 600mm; 1/2,500 second; f/11; ISO 200.