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Winning Pictures Inspired By the Plants For Birds Program!

 Nature is truly the greatest inspiration for all art, and the people on the front line, capturing stills of Mother Nature in her most beautiful moments, are none other than photographers. If you’re looking for a proper mix of color and wildlife, then there are no photographs better than those submitted as entries to the Audubon Photography Competition. This photography contest is held annually and all entries are inspired by Audubon’s Plants for Birds Program. All photos capture birds and plants in their native habitats across the United States. Out of the 2200 entries to this competition, these 10 caught the prize!   


1. Grand Prize Winner: Kathrin Swoboda

Winning Entries and Photographs from the Audubon Photography Competition 2019 inspired by the Plants for Bird program, Grand Prize Winner, Kathrin Swoboda

(Audubon)  

Category: Amateur

Species: Red-winged Blackbird

Location: Huntley Meadows Park, Alexandria, Virginia

Photographers Note: 

“I visit this park near my home to photograph blackbirds on cold mornings, often aiming to capture the ‘smoke rings’ that form from their breath as they sing out. On this occasion, I arrived early on a frigid day and heard the cry of the blackbirds all around the boardwalk. This particular bird was very vociferous, singing long and hard. I looked to set it against the dark background of the forest, shooting to the east as the sun rose over the trees, backlighting the vapor.”

 

2. Amateur Winner: Mariam Kamal 

Winning Entries and Photographs from the Audubon Photography Competition 2019 inspired by the Plants for Bird program, Amateur Winner, Mariam Kamal

(Audubon

Species: White-necked Jacobin

Location: Dave & Dave’s Nature Park, Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

Photographers Note: 

“On my fifth trip to Costa Rica, my favorite birding spots produced a few measly sightings. So I drove six hours to a reforestation site, which turned out to be well worth the trip. For an hour I photographed a valiant troop of White-necked Jacobins consuming nectar from heliconias that swayed and bobbed in a forceful wind. I could barely breathe as I snapped—I felt that I, too, was fighting to hang on!”

 

3. Youth Winner: Sebastian Velasquez 

Winning Entries and Photographs from the Audubon Photography Competition 2019 inspired by the Plants for Bird program, Youth Winner, Sebastian Velasquez

(Audubon

Species: Horned Puffin

Location: Alaska SeaLife Center (accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums), Seward, Alaska

Photographers Note: 

“Traveling through Alaska I saw Horned and Tufted Puffins from afar, always hoping to get closer. I got my chance at the SeaLife Center. Amid the chaos of native birds swimming, fishing, and zipping past me, I waited for hours for the perfect shot. At last, I spotted this secluded puffin in a moment of stillness, preening its feathers, providing a glimpse into a seemingly private moment.”

 

4. Professional Winner: Elizabeth Boehm 

Winning Entries and Photographs from the Audubon Photography Competition 2019 inspired by the Plants for Bird program, Professional Winner, Elizabeth Boehm

(Audubon)  

Species: Greater Sage-Grouse

Location: Pinedale, Wyoming

Photographers Note: 

“I spent a number of cold spring mornings photographing the courting display of the Greater Sage-Grouse from a blind on the perimeter of the lek. Along with the strutting, I watch for the dominance fights between males. The two contestants sit side by side until, upon some invisible cue, they suddenly throw blows, hitting each other with their wings. This photo, captured on hard snowpack, shows the power they exhibit when they are fighting for mates.” 

 

5. Plants for Birds Winner: Michael Schulte 

Winning Entries and Photographs from the Audubon Photography Competition 2019 inspired by the Plants for Bird program, Plants for Birds Winner, Michael Schulte

(Audubon

Species: Hooded Oriole

Location: San Diego, California

Photographers Note: 

“Soon after moving to San Diego last year, I noticed a pair of orioles that frequented the California fan palm in my backyard. When I saw the female gathering palm fibers for a nest, I grabbed my camera. I love this shot; it shows the relationship between two native species and illustrates the natural beauty to be appreciated even in a city. And the radiating palm fronds behind the female give a sense of radiance to her diligent efforts.” 

6. Fisher Prize Winner: Ly Dang

Winning Entries and Photographs from the Audubon Photography Competition 2019 inspired by the Plants for Bird program, Fisher Prize Winner, Ly Dang

(Audubon

Species: Black-browed Albatross

Location: Saunders Island, Falkland Islands

Photographers Note: 

“On a steep, windy slope of Saunders Island, several breeding colonies of Black-browed Albatrosses were tending their chicks and squawking at the neighbors to urge them to respect the territories. As I sat watching the birds conducting their daily activities, I started to notice the simple, elegant beauty of the adults’ eyes. After several positions looking for a clear view and a good light angle, I took this shot.”

 

7. Amateur Honorable Mention: Melissa Rowell 

Winning Entries and Photographs from the Audubon Photography Competition 2019 inspired by the Plants for Bird program, Amateur Honorable Mention, Melissa Rowell

(Audubon

Species: Great Blue Heron

Location: Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida

Photographers Note: 

“A storm was on the horizon when I arrived at one of my favorite wetlands. These herons immediately grabbed my attention: The male, obviously attempting to entice the female, was doing a stretch display. I love this mating ritual and decided to spend some time with them. When serious bill duels erupted between the pair, I was fascinated by their intense expressions as they sparred. The drama was further heightened as, thunder rumbling in the distance, the wind picked up, accentuating their long, flowing plumes.”

 

8. Professional Honorable Mention: Kevin Ebi

Winning Entries and Photographs from the Audubon Photography Competition 2019 inspired by the Plants for Bird program, Professional Honorable Mention, Kevin Ebi

(Audubon

Species: Bald Eagle

Location: San Juan Island National Historical Park, Friday Harbor, Washington

Photographers Note:

“I had spent the day photographing foxes and was panning with this kit running with its prey when an unmistakable cry made me look up. I just knew the eagle racing our way was after the fox’s rabbit. I expected to have only a split second to capture the theft in one explosive frame; instead, the eagle snagged the fox and rabbit, carrying both 20 feet off the ground. After eight seconds it dropped the fox, seemingly unharmed, and flew away with its stolen dinner.”

 

9. Plants for Birds Honorable Mention: Joseph Przybyla

Winning Entries and Photographs from the Audubon Photography Competition 2019 inspired by the Plants for Bird program, Plants for Birds Honorable Mention, Joseph Przybyla

(Audubon

Species: Purple Gallinule

Location: Circle B Bar Reserve, Lakeland, Florida

Photographers Note: 

“The normally elusive Purple Gallinule comes into the open when fire flag blooms, climbing the plant to feed on its flowers. I spotted this one making its way up the plant mid-morning on an overcast day, eating as it went. I set up with my monopod and camera, watching, waiting. When it reached the top, I captured images as it moved from stem to stem, moving quickly, side to side, up and down, choosing the best angle, and ultimately getting this photo of the bird mid-snack.”

 

10. Youth Honorable Mention: Garrett Sheets

Winning Entries and Photographs from the Audubon Photography Competition 2019 inspired by the Plants for Bird program, Youth Honorable Mention, Garrett Sheets

(Audubon

Species: Bobolink

Location: Dunn Ranch Prairie, Lincoln Township, Missouri

Photographers Note: 

“At sunset the Dunn Ranch Prairie becomes a field of golden grasses, which provided a perfect setting for this male as he perched briefly for a curious glance at my camera. The robotic tone of his song was echoed by dozens of other Bobolinks as they flew overhead. I was almost too excited to take the photo, but I secured a burst of photos before he took off, flying far out over the grasses.”

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