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Bird beauty: white-tailed kite carrying prey wins Audubon Photography Awards 2022

Audubon Photography Prize 2022
(Image credit: Jack Zhi - Audubon Photography Prize 2022)

The 2022 national Audubon Society Photography Award winners have just been announced. The Audubon Society protects birds and their habitats throughout America using science, advocacy and on-ground education.

This year, the grand prize was awarded to Jack Zhi from California, USA for his image of two white-tailed kites. The photo depicts two white-tailed kites facing the camera with their abdomens exposed as one of the birds clutches onto its prey. It was shot with a Sony A9 II (opens in new tab) and a Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens (opens in new tab) with a Sony FE 2x teleconverter. If you need the best camera for bird and wildlife photography (opens in new tab) then this Sony model is certainly a good shout.

Zhi describes the moments that led to him capturing the winning shot. “I studied white tailed kite behavior for three years before I got this close-up. It was a challenge to get the action, distance, lighting and angles of the individuals all right at the same time. He continues, “My passion is to capture that beauty and behavior and share it with people who don’t have time to see it in nature."

(Image credit: Peter Shen - Audubon Photography Prize 2022)
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Peter Shen came first in the amateur category for his photo of western grebe carrying two chicks on her back while they carry a fish between their beaks. The well-timed photo is the perfect example of being in the right place at the right time and Shen describes the moment he got the shot as heart-pounding. It was taken using a 50.1 megapixel Sony A1 (opens in new tab) and the Sony 600mm f/4 lens (opens in new tab) with a Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter.

Canadian photographer Liron Gertsman won both the professional category and the video category for an image of a white-tailed ptarmigan and footage of a sharp-tailed grouse. The clip shows a male grouse dancing and chirping trying to attract the attention of a female.  The impressive courtship dance involves the grouse rapidly stamping its feet on the ground creating a drumming sound with its wings outstretched. Gertsman tells Audoban, “As much as I love the power of photos to tell a story, some scenes need more than just a frame to capture the bigger picture.”

One of the most captivating images was taken by Steve Jessmore of a northern Shoveler at Muskegon County Wastewater Management facility in Michigan, USA. The striking image shows a drake lifting its head above the water and spreading its wings while surrounded by a sea of fellow Shovelers revealing its bright yellow eyes, emerald green head and beautiful sky-blue wing feathers.

Audubon Photography Prize 2022

(Image credit: Steve Jessmore - Audubon Photography Prize 2022)

Almost 2,500 photographers entered this year's competition amassing nearly 10,000 entries. In total $20,5000 will be awarded in cash prizes with $5,000 going to the overall winner, $2,500 for the professional,  amateur, plants for birds and video winner while $1,000 is awarded to the winner of the female bird prize and fisher prize. Winners of the youth category win a six-day stay in either Portland, Maine or Costa Rica which includes three meals a day, hotel accommodation, flights and ground transportation.

If you’re passionate about birds and want to help give them a fighting chance to thrive in a changing world, you can sign up to become a member or make a one-time donation. Audubon memberships start with a minimum donation of $5 which includes a one-year subscription to Audobon’s magazine, access to local events, up-to-date news on birds plus the chance to be part of a collective voice fighting for bird welfare. 

To view the full selection of winning images head to the 2022 Audubon Photography prize gallery (opens in new tab)

Audubon Photography Prize 2022

(Image credit: Liron Gertsman - Audubon Photography Prize 2022)

Read more:

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Hannah Rooke
Hannah Rooke

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.