Fifteen bird photos that will make your heart sing

Least bittern. Amateur category; Top 100.
Least bittern. Amateur category; Top 100. (Davey Walters/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Whether it’s a gray-feathered bird plunging face first into a stream at Yosemite National Park or a jewel-like hummingbird frolicking in the fountain at a local California farm, avian life is omnipresent—and their world is closely intertwined with our own. As much as the pandemic has forced many of us indoors, it’s also directed our eyes outward—and given us the chance to observe, document, and revel in the transient moments of beauty that birds afford us. 

Each year, the Audubon Photography Awards unveils intimate snapshots of these winged creatures. The 11th annual contest amassed over 6,000 submissions from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., seven Canadian provinces, and many other countries, such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Belize. Over a day-long Zoom call, judges, who ranged from wildlife photographers to bird experts, narrowed down the pool to ten winners and honorable mentions. Some of those choices, along with selects from the Audubon editors’ Top 100, are displayed below.

Joanna Lentini, professional photographer and winner of the Grand Prize, spent hours underwater in the Bay of La Paz in Mexico documenting diving double-crested cormorants and their failed attempts to snap up sardines. “Although I spent a long time admiring these birds, I didn’t see a single one catch a fish,” Lentini told Audubon. “Adding insult to injury, curious sea lion pups would zip by the hunting birds and nip at them from behind.”

Bird photography can be as intensive as spending hours underwater with a waterproof camera—or as simple as stepping outside into your backyard or local park. This series of exceptional images reveal the stunning diversity of feathered species—from woodpeckers braving icy snow to bare-throated tiger herons showing off their telling feature—and how they thrive all over the world in vastly differing habitats.

Anna's hummingbird. Amateur category; honorable mention.
Anna’s hummingbird. Amateur category; honorable mention. (Bibek Ghosh/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Double-crested cormorant. Grand Prize winner.
Double-crested cormorant. Grand Prize winner. (Joanna Lentini/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Waved albatross. Amateur category; Top 100.
Waved albatross. Amateur category; Top 100. (Jill Bartelt/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Sandhill crane and Canada goose chicks. Amateur category; Top 100.
Sandhill crane and Canada goose chicks. Amateur category; Top 100. (Jill Bartelt/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

American dipper. Fisher Prize winner.
American dipper. Fisher Prize winner. (Marlee Fuller-Morris/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Peregrine falcon and purple gallinule. Amateur category; Top 100.
Peregrine falcon and purple gallinule. Amateur category; Top 100. (Frank Haluska/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Indigo bunting. Amateur category; Top 100.
Indigo bunting. Amateur category; Top 100. (Scott Suriano/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Burrowing owls. Amateur category; Top 100.
Burrowing owls. Amateur category; Top 100. (Andrew Lee/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Western gulls and other birds. Amateur category/Top 100.
Western gulls and other birds. Amateur category/Top 100. (Gail Jackson/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Northern jacana. Youth winner.
Northern jacana. Youth winner. (Vayun Tiwari/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Common raven. Amateur category; Top 100.
Common raven. Amateur category; Top 100. (Trish Lyon/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

White-headed woodpecker. Amateur category; Top 100.
White-headed woodpecker. Amateur category; Top 100. (Jean Tuomi/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Red-billed tropicbird. Amateur category; Top 100.
Red-billed tropicbird. Amateur category; Top 100. (Joe Subolefsky/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Bare-throated tiger heron. Amateur winner.
Bare-throated tiger heron. Amateur winner. (Gail Bisson/Audubon Photography Awards/2020/)

Source: popsci
Fifteen bird photos that will make your heart sing