Every year, The National Audubon Society promotes a bird photography contest, with cash prizes up to US$5,000 and a bird photography camp for young winners.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on July 17, 2019

The National Audubon Society is a US non-profit environmental organisation dedicated to conservation, and thousands flock to its photography contest every year.

The society protects birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. It has 23 state programs, 41 centres and more than 450 local branches.

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Greater Sage-Grouses. Photo: Elizabeth Boehm/Audubon Photography Awards
Professional Winner: Pinedale, Wyoming, US. On a greater sage-grouse dancing ground, or lek, the stakes are high. Many males may display there, but most females that visit will mate with one of the few dominant males at the centre of the lek. As a result, genes passed on to the next generation will tend to be those of the strongest males. Photograph: Elizabeth Boehm/The National Audubon Society Photography Awards

Each year the National Audubon Society promotes a bird photography contest, with cash prizes up to US$5,000 and a bird photography camp for young winners.

White-necked Jacobin.
Amateur winner: Dave & Dave’s nature park in Sarapiqui, Costa Rica. Of the 350-plus species of hummingbirds, most have small geographic ranges. Bucking the trend is the white-necked jacobin, common from southern Mexico to southern Brazil. It succeeds by being adaptable, occupying a wide variety of tropical forest and edge habitats. Photograph: Mariam Kamal/The National Audubon Society Photography Awards

The 2019 National Audubon Society photography awards attracted 2,253 entrants from all 50 US states, Washington DC and 10 Canadian provinces and territories. This year’s edition introduced two new categories: Plants for Birds, which awards photographers who capture a bird and a plant native to the location in which the photograph was taken, and the Fisher prize, in honour of Kevin Fisher, The National Audubon Society’s former creative director.

Seward, Alaska, US. Unlike the Atlantic and tufted puffins, which dig tunnels in soil for their nests, the horned puffin usually lays its single egg deep in a crevice among rocks. Such nest sites are harder to access for study, and the habits of this north Pacific species are not as well known as those of its relatives Photograph: Sebastian Velasquez//Audubon photography awards
Youth Winner: Seward, Alaska, US. Unlike the Atlantic and tufted puffins, which dig tunnels in soil for their nests, the horned puffin usually lays its single egg deep in a crevice among rocks. Such nest sites are harder to access for study, and the habits of this north Pacific species are not as well known as those of its relatives. Photograph: Sebastian Velasquez/The National Audubon Society Photography Awards

All of the winners and honourable mentions will be featured at the biennial Audubon Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from July 26 to 29; in future issues of Audubon magazine and Nature’s Best Photography magazine and in a special travelling exhibition showcasing the Audubon Photography Awards winners.

Plants for Birds winner: San Diego, California, US. Orioles build hanging nests, weaving plant fibres for a lightweight but durable structure. Living in subtropical climates, the hooded oriole finds the perfect building material in the long, strong fibres of palms. It often fastens its nest under a leaf of California fan palm Photograph: Michael Schulte/Audubon photography awardsPlants for Birds winner: San Diego, California, US. Orioles build hanging nests, weaving plant fibres for a lightweight but durable structure. Living in subtropical climates, the hooded oriole finds the perfect building material in the long, strong fibres of palms. It often fastens its nest under a leaf of California fan palm Photograph: Michael Schulte/The National Audubon Society Photography Awards

The National Audubon Society state many of the winning entries feature striking fliers protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, “one of Audubon’s founding conservation victories and one of the most important bird conservation laws, that has protected countless birds since 1918.”

Fisher Prize winner: Saunders Island, Falkland Islands. Spending most of their lives at sea in southern oceans, black-browed albatrosses are masters of the air, soaring and gliding effortlessly on incredibly long wings. On the Falkland Islands they share nesting colonies with penguins – the opposite of albatrosses in flying ability, but birds also supremely adapted to a life at sea Photograph: Ly Dang/Audubon photography awards
Fisher Prize winner: Saunders Island, Falkland Islands. Spending most of their lives at sea in southern oceans, black-browed albatrosses are masters of the air, soaring and gliding effortlessly on incredibly long wings. On the Falkland Islands they share nesting colonies with penguins – the opposite of albatrosses in flying ability, but birds also supremely adapted to a life at sea Photograph: Ly Dang/The National Audubon Society Photography Awards

If you are living in the US or visiting on holiday, check out the Birds in Focus touring exhibition that is travelling throughout the US.

Professional Honourable Mention: Bald eagle and red fox tussling over rabbit, San Juan Island national historical park, Washington. Photograph: Kevin Ebi/Audubon photography awards
Professional Honourable Mention: Bald eagle and red fox tussling over rabbit, San Juan Island national historical park, Washington. Photograph: Kevin Ebi/Audubon photography awards

This is the 10th year of the Audubon Photography Awards.

Circle B Bar Reserve, Lakeland, Florida, US. The purple gallinule seems to combine the best traits of its rail relatives. Like true rails, it slips through dense marshes; like the coots, it swims and dives expertly on open water. When food beckons, it uses its garish yellow feet to clamber higher, even into trees. Photograph: Joseph Przybyla/Audubon photography awards
Plants for Birds Honourable Mention: Circle B Bar Reserve, Lakeland, Florida, US. The purple gallinule seems to combine the best traits of its rail relatives. Like true rails, it slips through dense marshes; like the coots, it swims and dives expertly on open water. When food beckons, it uses its garish yellow feet to clamber higher, even into trees. Photograph: Joseph Przybyla/The National Audubon Society Photography Awards

A nonprofit conservation organisation since 1905, the society believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive.

Amateur Honourable Mention: Wakodahatchee wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida, US. Equipped with sinewy necks and spear-like bills, great blue herons can lunge with fearsome speed to strike their aquatic prey. Adults will also employ rapid stabbing motions as one aspect of their complex courtship displays; they’re seemingly dangerous moves, but fitting to the intensity of mating season Photograph: Melissa Rowell/Audubon photography awards
Amateur Honourable Mention: Wakodahatchee wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida, US. Equipped with sinewy necks and spear-like bills, great blue herons can lunge with fearsome speed to strike their aquatic prey. Adults will also employ rapid stabbing motions as one aspect of their complex courtship displays; they’re seemingly dangerous moves, but fitting to the intensity of mating season. Photograph: Melissa Rowell/The National Audubon Society Photography Awards

Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Youth Honourable Mention: Dunn Ranch Prairie, Lincoln Township, Missouri, US. Most songbirds nesting in grasslands of the US and Canada are short-distance migrants at most. The bobolink is a striking exception, leaving north America entirely in autumn and spending mid-­winter south of the equator in south America. Bobolinks moult before migrating, the male trading his snappy summer plumage for subtle buff-brown tones Photograph: Garrett Sheets/Audubon photography awards
Youth Honourable Mention: Dunn Ranch Prairie, Lincoln Township, Missouri, US. Most songbirds nesting in grasslands of the US and Canada are short-distance migrants at most. The bobolink is a striking exception, leaving north America entirely in autumn and spending mid-­winter south of the equator in south America. Bobolinks moult before migrating, the male trading his snappy summer plumage for subtle buff-brown tones. Photograph: Garrett Sheets/The National Audubon Society Photography Awardss

The 2019 Audubon Photography Awards are sponsored by Canon.

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