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Winning images from 2020 Bird Photographer of the Year competition

An impressionistic image of European Shags by Majed AlZa’abi from Kuwait took top prize in the 2020 Bird Photographer of the Year contest, which is run by the UK-based conservation charity Birds on the Brink. Majed wins the top prize of £5,000 (about $6,500) and the title “Bird Photographer of the Year 2020.” Majed’s image was also the winning image in the Best Portrait category of the competition, and for that he wins a pair of Swarovski Optik binoculars.

The judging team, which included BirdWatching Contributing Editor Brian Small and Editor Matt Mendenhall, said this about the shag photo: 

“To win this competition, it takes a very special photograph. Technical perfection is simply not enough; it is the imaginative eye and a mind that seeks out the unusual and the artistic in the everyday that will do well. The vast majority of the 15,000 images entered annually are of an amazing standard, sufficient eye-candy to feed even the most visually gluttonous. But create a photograph that makes us sick with envy or cry out with uncontained excitement, then you are in with a chance. When that collective shout from the judges is ‘I wish I had taken that myself’, then you are onto a winner. Well done Majed for sharing this stunning image with us – it is a well-deserved winner.”

The slideshow below features the Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners of each category, as well as the contest’s Inspirational Encounters Award, which conveys a photographer’s significant moment with a bird. The images here represent some of the very best bird photographs we have ever seen. Enjoy! 

Attention to Detail Gold Award

Attention to Detail Gold Award

PERFECT CAMOUFLAGE by Moshe Cohen, Israel.

Eurasian Scops-owl, Kibbutz Hatzor, Israel.

Photographer's Story: This owl lives very close to my home – I know this because I hear its sonar-ping call in the night. However, finding and seeing the bird is a different matter as the species is notoriously difficult to spot, being adept at blending in with its surroundings. The plumage is a superb match for tree bark, and it puts this camouflage to good use by roosting in appropriate settings. On this occasion I found the bird during the daytime, but it is still hard to see where owl ends and bark begins.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM lens and 2× converter. Focal length 1,000mm; 1/1,250 second; f/11; ISO 1,600.

More photo contest winners

2019 Bird Photographer of the Year winners  

2020 BirdWatching Photography Awards winners

Audubon’s 2020 photo contest winners

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