Second place in our 2022 Bird Portrait contest goes to John Economaki of Lake Oswego, Oregon. He made this incredible photo at sunrise on Nickerson Beach on Long Island, New York, a spot where Least Terns breed. “This chick was left alone,” Economaki recalls, “and while I was sitting in the sand, the mother arrived.”
Contributing Editor Laura Erickson, one of our judges, had high praise for the image.
“The Least Tern is declining dangerously — listed as threatened or a species of special concern in the coastal states where it nests and as federally endangered in its interior range,” she says. “Fortunately for those of us who love this beautiful bird, the ones that remain spend their time in the open, where we can see and try to photograph them. But no matter how hard we try, few of us get results like this stunning photo. The adult’s exquisite face, cast down to show every detail of the upper bill and the striking black-and-white head pattern, would make this photo a winner even without the winsome chick. The tiny hatchling is captured in perfect profile, highlighting the colorful beak, big bright eye, and exquisite feather detail, making the chick’s portrait a winner even without the adult. In combination, with such a perfect, soft-focus background, this photo took my breath away.”
Economaki used a Nikon Z 9, a 600mm f4 lens, and a 1.4x teleconverter. Exposure data: 1/800 @ f/5.6, +2EC, ISO 2,500.
Many thanks to our panel of guest judges: Contributing Editors Laura Erickson, Pete Dunne, and Brian E. Small; professional photographer Marie Read; Outdoor Photographer editors Dan Havlik and Kristan Ashworth; and Imaging Resource editors William Brawley and Jeremy Gray.
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