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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! 

Birds in the Environment Silver Award

Birds in the Environment Silver Award
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HAWK OWL IN A MOUNTAIN FOREST by Pål Hermansen, Norway.

Northern Hawk Owl, Golsfjell mountain region, Norway.

Photographer's Story: This Northern Hawk Owl spent several hours in the top of the tree, looking over the winter landscape for food. As I realized the bird was very bold and fearless, I carefully launched my drone and approached it very slowly. The owl did not react and allowed the drone to hover reasonably close. After finishing the photography, I backed off with the drone, leaving the bird perched for a further hour before it moved to another treetop.

DJI Mavic Pro. Focal length 4.73mm (26mm equivalent); 1/180 second; f/2.2; ISO 100.


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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