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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 Silver Award

Attention to Detail Silver Award

RAINBOW OF THE FOREST by Mathias Putze, Germany.

Ocellated Turkey, Tikal, El Péten, Guatemala.

Photographer's Story: It was never my plan to take a picture like this. Just seeing this extraordinary bird was as much as I expected. Luckily, however, the combination of thousands of visitors to the Mayan remains and the prohibition of any hunting inside Tikal National Park mean wildlife is quite relaxed. I was more than surprised to find an adult male Ocellated Turkey preening at the forest edge not far from the trail. What a treat. Elsewhere in Central America the species is often persecuted, and either rare, or wary of people, or both.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Canon EF600mm f/4L IS II USM lens. Focal length 600mm; 1/200 second; f/8; ISO 800. Hand-held.

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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