The 2022 Audubon Pictures Awards: Winners and Honorable Mentions

With their beautiful appears to be like and charming behaviors, birds typically enthrall us after they cross our path. Many individuals spend hours or years searching for them out. However simply as typically, we bump into distinctive moments in a stroke of luck. Generally all it takes is merely stopping to understand an on a regular basis scene with contemporary eyes.

Whatever the effort and time invested, all significant experiences with birds require a standard ingredient: our consideration.

Nearly 2,500 photographers and videographers submitted almost 10,000 entries to this 12 months’s contest—sharing the fruits of their boundless consideration with us. In a world full of limitless distractions, that’s a present. Discover what is obtainable by the photographs and movies honored right here, chosen by three skilled panels who judged nameless picture and video information. From the daring motion of a raptor to the subtlest element within the feather patterns of ptarmigan, take a second to revel in what you may in any other case miss.

The 2022 APA Judges

Beginner, Skilled, Youth, Vegetation for Birds, Grand, and Fisher Prizes:

  • Sabine Meyer, images director, Nationwide Audubon Society
  • Melissa Hafting, conservation photographer and youth nature educator
  • Allen Murabayashi, chairman and co-founder, PhotoShelter
  • John Rowden, senior director for bird-friendly communities, Nationwide Audubon Society
  • Tara Tanaka, wildlife photographer and videographer

Video Prize:

  • Mike Fernandez, video producer, Nationwide Audubon Society
  • Sean Graesser, biologist and conservation photographer and videographer
  • Tara Tanaka, wildlife photographer and videographer

Feminine Hen Prize:

Founders of the Galbatross Mission: Brooke Bateman, Stephanie Beilke, Martha Harbison, Purbita Saha, Joanna Wu

Judging standards: technical high quality, originality, creative benefit

Grand Prize: Jack Zhi 

Class: Beginner
Species: White-tailed Kite
Location: Costa Mesa, California
Digicam: Sony a9ii with Sony 600mm f/4.0 lens with a Sony FE 2x Teleconverter; 1/3200 second at f/8; ISO 800

Story Behind the Shot: I studied White-tailed Kite habits for 3 years earlier than I obtained this close-up. It was a problem to get the motion, distance, lighting, and angles of the people all proper on the identical time. The daddy, who teaches his fledglings to hunt, held a vole in his talons. The fledgling flew in and, in a blink, grabbed the rodent as the daddy let go. Wildlife does spectacular issues—individuals stroll by with out even realizing. My ardour is to seize that magnificence and habits and share it with individuals who don’t have the time to see it in nature.

Hen Lore: Swish grassland fliers of North and South America, White-tailed Kites feed primarily on mice, voles, and different small mammals. Another raptors search such prey by watching from a perch or hovering slowly throughout the panorama, however this chook does nearly all its looking by hovering in a single spot, intently scanning the bottom under, after which quickly pouncing. This system requires nice dexterity in flight, and grownup White-tailed Kites might dedicate a number of weeks to coaching younger who’ve left the nest.

Beginner Award Winner: Peter Shen

Species: Western Grebe 
Location: Calero Reservoir, San Jose, California
Digicam: Sony A1 with a Sony FE 600mm f/4 lens with a Sony 1.4x Teleconverter; 1/1000 second at f/7.1; ISO 500

Story Behind the Shot: I used to be mountaineering on a slim, rocky path once I noticed a Western Grebe with two chicks on her again. I unpacked my gear and knelt on the shore’s edge. A male arrived with a fish and handed it to the mother, who turned to face me and made eye contact. I rapidly laid flat on the gravel, chook droppings throughout, however I didn’t care. My coronary heart pounded. One chick obtained maintain of the fish, however the second bit onto the opposite finish. They tugged, forwards and backwards, till the second chick received. The rivalry introduced again pleased recollections of my siblings, our mother within the center.

Hen Lore: Western Grebes hatch out of eggs in nests that float on the water’s floor. Inside minutes of rising, the infant grebes scramble up onto the again of their attending dad or mum; the grownup grebe quickly swims away carrying them, changing into in impact a brand new dwelling, floating nest. For as much as 4 weeks the female and male adults take turns at parental duties, one toting the younger whereas the opposite hunts for meals to deliver again for them.

Skilled Award Winner: Liron Gertsman

Species: White-tailed Ptarmigan 
Location: Jasper Nationwide Park, Alberta, Canada
Digicam: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens; 1/800 second at f/6.3; ISO 100

Story Behind the Shot: I’ve spent numerous hikes trying to find the elusive “mountain hen,” also called the White-tailed Ptarmigan, to no avail. On today, after a few hours, I stumbled proper onto some. The small group was so properly camouflaged I didn’t discover it till motion caught my eye. Eager to seize these exceptional birds within the context of their area, I placed on a wider lens and sat down. They continued to forage at shut vary, and I captured this picture of a person posing in entrance of the beautiful mountains.

Hen LoreSuperbly tailored to the chilly, ptarmigan thrive year-round in harsh circumstances of the Arctic and excessive mountains the place few birds might survive. They feed on buds, leaves, and twigs of willows and different shrubby tundra vegetation, searching for out windswept spots the place stems lengthen above the snow. Their thick plumage supplies excellent insulation, in addition to camouflage, altering with the seasons. They even develop snowshoes: Thick feathers develop on their ft in winter, serving to them stroll throughout the snow’s floor.

Video Award Winner: Liron Gertsman

Video Transcript

A brown and white feathered Sharp-tailed Grouse chirps within the early morning mild; its wings outstretched and physique parallel to the bottom. A number of extra grouse are out of focus behind it. On the identical time, they bend over as they stomp their ft so quick that they blur and make a buzzing sound. After a pause and extra chirping, they accomplish that once more.

Class: Skilled 
Species: Sharp-tailed Grouse
Location: Thompson-Nicola, British Columbia, Canada
Digicam: Canon EOS R5 with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @400mm lens and Canon EF to RF mount adapter; 1/60 second at f 5.6; ISO 5000

Story Behind the Shot: This clip from the pre-sunrise hours captures Sharp-tailed Grouse males dancing and chirping at a lek. Cautious to not hassle them, I filmed as they bent over, stretched their wings, and stomped their ft. It seemed like speedy drumming. Their tails standing straight up, they displayed repeatedly. As a lot as I like the ability of pictures to inform a narrative, some scenes want greater than a body to seize the larger image.

Hen Lore: All of North America’s prairie grouse have spectacular courtship dances which have been inspiring people for millennia. Many Native American peoples of the Nice Plains and the Inside West have stirring, elaborate ceremonial dances based mostly on these of the grouse. The Sharp-tailed Grouse is a detailed relative of the 2 species of prairie-chickens, nevertheless it’s much less depending on open grasslands, favoring habitats with extra brushy cowl, and sometimes shifting into wooded areas in winter

Vegetation for Birds Award Winner: Shirley Donald

A little Nashville Warbler, yellow with a gray head, clings to the stalk of a scarlet bee balm plant. Its profile faces a pink seedhead where a few bright red flower segments remain and stand out against a green background. In the bird’s beak is a tiny snail.
Nashville Warbler and scarlet bee balm. Photograph: Shirley Donald/Audubon Pictures Awards

Class: Beginner
Species: Nashville Warbler
Location: Blue Sea, Quebec, Canada
Digicam: Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO II USM lens and a Canon 1.4x Teleconverter III; 1/640 second at f/5.6; ISO 1000

Story Behind the Shot: I planted a scarlet bee balm beneath my workplace window. Over a number of years it unfold, the mass of flowers blooming midsummer in time to feed juvenile hummingbirds. As soon as the flowers are spent, the seedheads shelter bugs and entice snails. Birds examine them and feast off their finds. With my digital camera on a tripod, lens poking via a gap within the mesh I exploit to display screen my open window, I’m prepared for any alternative—reminiscent of this warbler snatching a tiny snail.

Hen LoreThe Nashville Warbler’s title displays an period when chook migration was poorly underneath­stood. In 1810, ornithologist Alexander Wilson journeyed west. He found three warbler species new to science and named them for locations the place he noticed them. The Kentucky Warbler does nest in Kentucky, however the Tennessee and Nashville Warblers have been solely touring to forests of the far north.

Fisher Prize: Steve Jessmore

Class: Skilled
Species: Northern Shoveler
Location: Muskegon County Wastewater Administration System, Muskegon County, Michigan
Digicam: Sony Alpha 1 mirrorless digital camera with a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and a ProMaster carbon monopod; 1/1000 second at f/11; ISO 2000

Story Behind the Shot: The whipping wind and bitter chilly on a dreary winter Michigan morning made it exhausting to face and preserve my lens regular. Huddled behind my Subaru, I seen teams of Northern Shovelers feeding and was drawn to the swirling movement as they circled, the teams rising and shrinking. I attempted to fill my body with geese, their our bodies protecting the water’s floor and heads down in water. Nearly two hours into capturing, a drake rose from the middle and unfold his wings. Along with his inexperienced head, shovel-shaped invoice, yellow eyes, and hanging sky-blue panels, he regarded statuesque for a second or two earlier than dropping again to feed.

Hen LoreSome birds keep far aside when foraging, however the Northern Shoveler typically feeds in tightly packed teams. High quality comb-like constructions inside its outsized invoice permit it to pressure tiny gadgets from the water, so it swims with its invoice submerged, sifting out crustaceans, bugs, seeds, and different edibles. Paddling with its ft, stirring up the muddy backside, it brings extra meals up inside attain. When many shovelers do that collectively, they supply a wealthy provide of meals for all.

Video Honorable Point out: Xiao Hu

Video Transcript

A Nice Blue Heron carrying a big department enters the body from the distant tree traces. The video is in gradual movement, exhibiting the grey feathers on the chook brighten towards the nice and cozy brown winter foliage. The lengthy plume feathers underneath the neck flutter within the wind because it flies nearer and lands.

Class: Beginner
Species: Nice Blue Heron
Location: Paynes Prairie Protect State Park, Micanopy, Florida
Digicam: Canon EOS R5 with a Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens and a Canon 1.4x Teleconverter and Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R; 1/1000 second at f/5.6.; ISO 951

Story Behind the Shot: Seeing Nice Blue Herons with full breeding plumage up shut is just not an on a regular basis enterprise. The La Chua Path is a go-to place to observe alligators and birds, however since Hurricane Irma, it has been largely underneath water. For a quick whereas, the path was walkable, and I witnessed these birds construct a nest while not having binoculars. The couple selected a notable floor: a photo voltaic panel. Crews needed to take away the nest, however not earlier than I shot a slow-motion clip of 1 heron flying towards it with a department, feathers blowing within the wind.

Hen LoreAt a look, Nice Blue Herons won’t seem like they’d nest in excessive locations. However they’re such sleek and highly effective fliers that they will collect giant sticks and carry them as much as 100 ft above the bottom, forming a cradle for his or her eggs in treetops or at different raised websites. Nest constructing is a shared activity for mated pairs: Males sometimes collect sticks and different gadgets however females do a lot of the discerning work of inserting supplies within the nest.

Youth Honorable Point out: Amiel Hopkins

Species: Higher Prairie-Hen
Location: Fort Pierre Nationwide Grassland, Fort Pierre, South Dakota
Digicam: Nikon D3500 with a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED lens; 1/800 second at f/7.1; ISO 320

Story Behind the Shot: I spent the evening in a freezing, cramped blind so I might be in place by daybreak to {photograph} Higher Prairie-Hen spring courtship shows. Males inflate vocal sacs, make deep, booming calls, dance about like wind-up toys, and struggle different males to defend their territories. That morning one chook flew onto my blind and commenced to bop, its ft making loud, clacking noises on the tin roof. When one other got here inside arm’s attain, I captured its intricate and exquisite feather sample because it emitted a loud cackling cry.  At that distance, the chook would decide up any motion and flush, so I remained nonetheless. Fortunately, it by no means seen me.

Hen LoreOn spring mornings just a few centuries in the past, prairies of the North American inside echoed with a deep, low, moaning sound that pulsed throughout the panorama. This was the “booming” of male Higher Prairie-Chickens coming collectively at their ancestral show grounds to posture and dance in a bid to draw females. The sound from a big booming floor might carry greater than two miles throughout the grasslands. Prairie-chickens nonetheless collect at remoted websites throughout a number of states, however their numbers in the present day barely trace at their former abundance.

Beginner Honorable Point out: Ankur Khurana

Species: Widespread Raven
Location: Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
Digicam: Canon 7D Mark II with a Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Modern lens; 1/250 second at f/5.6; ISO 4000

Story Behind the Shot: My accomplice and I came across this couple on the final day of 2021 as we plowed via heavy snow in chilly that settled into our bones. The bigger raven groomed its mate’s head feathers because it clicked, gurgled, cawed, and shrieked. Whereas ravens are frequent right here, I couldn’t miss photographing this intimate interplay. My palms numb, I pulled my digital camera out and clicked a number of photographs. As we walked away, the ravens continued to take pleasure in playful shows on the bottom and in flight. We’d seen ravens, and proof of their apparent intelligence, a whole lot of instances, however this raven encounter is one which will probably be exhausting to beat.

Hen LoreBelonging to the identical household as jays and crows, the Widespread Raven is classed as a songbird—the most important one on this planet. It’s additionally among the many smartest of birds. Adults type long-term monogamous pairs, and pairs keep collectively year-round, seeming to speak with one another through the use of all kinds of calls and nonvocal indicators. Members of a pair typically perch shut collectively and take turns preening one another’s feathers with what appears to be like for all of the world like a show of sheer affection.

Feminine Hen Prize: Alan Krakauer

Class: Beginner 
Species: Higher Sage-Grouse
Location: Fremont County, Wyoming
Digicam: Canon EOS 6D with a Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD A011 lens and a UV filter; 1/1600 second at f/8; ISO 800

Story Behind the Shot: It had been a number of frigid hours since I had climbed right into a blind in a distant valley, arriving earlier than first mild to keep away from disturbing a Higher Sage-Grouse lek. Whereas I used to be often pointing my digital camera at combating and strutting males, this {photograph} of a hen pausing between snow-draped shrubs turned my favourite. Together with her calm eyes and intricately patterned plumage, the feminine nearly took my frosty breath away. Whereas I huddled in my cumbersome coat and two pairs of lengthy underwear, the grouse appeared unbothered by the temperature. I’m amazed at how these hardy birds dwell year-round on this harsh surroundings, and but a species this powerful is imperiled by so many threats to its existence.

Hen LoreFew birds are so tightly linked to a selected plant because the Higher Sage-Grouse is to sagebrush. This huge chook, our largest native grouse, is discovered nearly solely in habitats dominated by varied species of sagebrush. It builds its nest beneath these vegetation, rests of their shade on scorching days, and consumes their buds, leaves, flowers, and stems, with sage leaves making up the vast majority of its winter eating regimen. It’s not only a matter of preferring their style: The digestive system of this grouse is uniquely tailored for consuming sagebrush.

Youth Award Winner: Jayden Preussner

Species: Black­-bellied Whistling-­Duck
Location: Farm 13/Stick Marsh, Indian River County, Florida
Digicam: Nikon D850 with a Nikon AF­S NIKKOR 200-­500mm f/5.6E ED lens; 1/640 second at f/6.3; ISO 2800

Story Behind the Shot:set out alongside a dike and levee system that places you at eye degree with timber and noticed a pair of Black­ bellied Whistling­-Geese sitting on a hollowed ­out palm. Earlier than I knew it, one regarded as if it had merely fallen in. The opposite peered down the trunk, seemingly assume­ing, “What an fool.” My good friend and I burst out laughing. The scene was foolish, however now I look again and assume: That was a pleasant shot of the birds interacting with their surroundings. Showcasing these relationships is essential to me.

Hen LoreWhistling­ geese make up a extremely distinctive group of lanky, lengthy­ legged, lengthy­necked waterfowl. Not like typical geese, women and men look the identical, and each sexes incubate eggs and have a tendency to younger. Prior to now they have been typically known as tree geese, and this species earns the title, often nesting in holes in timber—or nest containers supplied by human admirers.

Vegetation for Birds Honorable Point out: Warren Johnson

A Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi drinks nectar upside down from the pink, clustered flowers of the sandalwood tree. Below the blooms, a black and orange bee approaches, its beating wings blurred. The bird’s small green body is in soft sunlight as its slightly curved black beak disappears into a flower.
Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi and ‘iliahi. Photograph: Warren Johnson/Audubon Pictures Awards

Class: Beginner 
Species: Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi
Location: Haleakalā Nationwide Park, Maui, Hawai‘i
Digicam: Nikon D500 with a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens; 1/1000 second at f/6.3; ISO 720

Story Behind the Shot: After heavy December rains, native timber flowered and Hawaiian honeycreepers, in flip, started breeding. This Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi was an everyday customer to an ‘iliahi, also called sandalwood. Their interplay illustrates an interdependent relationship that coevolved over millennia. To me, the scene alludes to how a lot Hawaiian avifauna and flora have been misplaced—a second that was as soon as frequent has change into comparatively uncommon. I used to be so centered on the chook that I didn’t see the bee under it once I snapped the shot.

Hen LoreHawai‘i as soon as had almost 40 species of honeycreepers, a definite group of finches distinctive to those islands. Nearly half are actually extinct, and most remaining species are endangered. The Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi is likely one of the few that has a wholesome inhabitants, maybe as a result of it’s considerably much less specialised than others. Nonetheless, like all honeycreepers, it’s closely reliant on native vegetation, and safety of native forest might be key to its long-term survival.

Skilled Honorable Point out: Liron Gertsman

Species: Sharp-tailed Grouse 
Location: Thompson-Nicola, British Columbia, Canada
Digicam: Canon EOS R5 with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens and Canon EF to RF mount adapter; 1/6400 at f/5.6; ISO 800

Story Behind the Shot: One of the crucial unbelievable issues I’ve ever skilled in nature is a Sharp-tailed Grouse lek, the place males collect to carry out courtship shows for females. The birds arrive in darkness and dance and show via the morning. These birds are notoriously flighty and delicate to disturbance, so to watch them respectfully, I scouted a location the afternoon prior. Waking up at 3 a.m., I hiked for 45 minutes to achieve my cover exterior the lek’s perimeter. At first mild, the present started. Every male on the lek defended his small territory and fights usually broke out. This shot was one in every of 1000’s I took that morning.

Hen LoreOn a lek, male Sharp-tailed Grouse collect in spectacular numbers—typically 50 or extra—and dance to draw the eye of females. Mating success doesn’t simply go to these with essentially the most alluring strikes; place on the lek is essential, too, with most females gravitating to males holding the prime spots on the heart. Consequently, competitors for these central places is intense, and the dancing is usually interrupted by violent fights as males spar for higher place.

These successful photographs initially ran within the Summer season 2022 subject. To obtain our print journal, change into a member by .

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