Bird Contest Winners-2012

I’m excited to announce the winners of our First Annual Bird Photography Contest. We instituted this contest for two reasons; first to tip our hats to the dedicated birders of the Annual Christmas Bird Count who help us gauge the health of our natural environment, and second to give credit to bird photographers everywhere. I acknowledge their skills and perseverance precisely because I am so damned bad at it!

There were supposed to be First, Second and Third place awards, but we had a hard time choosing the Second place winner, so in the end we are giving four awards from the many submissions. What great images! This contest was tough to judge, but I’ll give you an idea of why we chose these winners. Here, then, are the recipients, along with some words from them. Click on the images to see larger versions. 

First Place goes to Keith Carver who took this wonderful image on Damariscotta Lake in Maine. What struck us about this image is the intimacy of the mother feeding a crayfish to her chick. Better yet, Keith chose to crop out the extraneous parts of the image to focus on its essence (see my blog on essence). I love how elegant it is in its simplicity, with the somewhat overblown, featureless water drawing the viewers’ eyes to the focal point. That turns a mere bird identification photo into a magical story. “It was taken in early July, 2010 on Damariscotta Lake,” Keith tells us. “Cropped to about 60% of the full frame image.  The chick was about three weeks old at the time, and survived the snappers and herring gulls to grow to a grayish teenager by late September when I last saw him.”

Photo details:  Canon EOS 1D Mk III, 500 mm IS with 1.4X extender (700 mm), 1/1250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400, Aperture priority, exposure bias +1 stop

Second Prizes go to John Sternbergh for his Tanzanian Red-Billed Hornbill eating a frog and to Andy Anderson for his capture of an osprey in flight with a fish in its talons.


In John’s image, talk about being in the right place at the right time and with the right equipment! What we liked about this image is the action and the tack-sharp eye of the hornbill (with a slight catch-light to boot!).

Photo details: Nikon D700, AF-S VR Nikkor 200-400mm @ 330mm, f5.6, 1/200, -1.67EV, ISO 200


Andy’s image captured the action of the osprey with an alewife in its talons. Note the sharp eye and the talons dug into the hapless fish. As Andy tells it:

“This is a photo of an osprey carrying off an alwive taken in Orland, Maine, on the saltwater side of the dam. My wife and I went there on my motorcycle because we heard from one of her patients (she’s a nurse) that the ospreys were hunting in the deep pool at the base of the fish ladder.  One or two would hang out on this tall dead tree nearby and watch for an opportunity for a free lunch.  At the time, I was using a Nikon D200, with a Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6.”

The Third Place image could have placed First in virtually any competition. Michael Allie’s Great-Horned Owl is striking in its pose, its in-your-face stare, its tack sharpness and its surroundings to give context. The only thing that held it back in this competition was my proclivity for images that tell stories or show action.

Photo details: Nikon D7000, Tamron 70-300MM lens at 217mm, ISO 800, f7.1, 1/1250.

We also wanted to extend an Honorable Mention to Danny Pickens for his image of a Night Heron trying to tempt his mate. Keep up the good work, Danny, and submit another one for next year’s contest.

Thanks to all who submitted images to the contest and a hearty congrats to our winners. Like I always say, judging these contests is terribly subjective and does not in any way reflect on the quality of those images not selected.

Now a note to the winners: I am in Hawaii right now and won’t be back until Feb 26. I will contact you all individually shortly after my return with information about the prizes. Thanks for your patience. Feel free to contact me as I will have email throughout.


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