The 2021 Audubon Photography Awards has officially announced the winners and honorable mentions for its latest wildlife photography contest. Featuring eight prizes across five divisions, this was the first year that the competition awarded the Female Bird Prize and Video Prize. The Female Bird Prize was introduced to draw attention to female birds, which are oven under-appreciated in both bird photography and conservation.
Meanwhile, the Video Prize is designed to help illuminate the way birds interact with their environment. Having received 8,770 photographs and 261 videos, there was plenty of competition for the grand prize of $5,000. However, Carolina Frazer swooped into the top spot with her sun-drenched image of a Greater Roadrunner.
• Read more: Best lenses for bird photography
Captured with a Nikon D500 and a Nikon 500mm f/4 lens, Carolina shot her winning photo in Los Novios Ranch, Cotulla, Texas. As reported on Audubon.org, "On a blazing hot summer day just before sunset, I found myself lying facedown at an uncomfortable angle, my elbows digging into a gravel path as I photographed this roadrunner. I manually adjusted the white balance until I captured the bird bathed in golden sunlight as it took a dust bath."
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Yicheng Shen, the winner of the Female Bird Prize, captured a mid-flight image of a Northern Harrier with her Sony A9, Sony 400mm f/2.8 GM FE OSS lens and 2x teleconverter. She tells Audubon.org, "I was waiting for Fernando the Chilean Flamingo to wake up from his afternoon nap. People have reported seeing the lone flamingo in the park since 2010 so I went out to photograph him.
"A commotion from the nearby water, where a Great Blue Heron stalked prey and a few gulls rested, attracted my attention. A Northern Harrier had come out of nowhere to hunt. I quickly adjusted my camera settings so I could get her owl-like face. This kind of unexpected encounter is why I always carry my camera when I venture into nature."
With most of the images showcased in this competition captured during the pandemic, Audubon.org notes that "one trend became clear after the judging was completed: In contrast to recent years, few of the winning images emerged from far-flung expeditions. Most were taken by photographers working close to home. This may be a reflection of the many ways that birds provided solace during the challenging and restrictive conditions brought on by the pandemic".
The winning photos and videos will be featured in the Summer 2021 issue of Audubon magazine and the top photos and honorable mentions will also be showcased in a virtual Audubon Photography Awards exhibit. Meanwhile, you can also see a selection of the images below.
Best camera for wildlife photography
Best trail camera
Best portable hides
Best spotting scopes
Best night vision goggles and binoculars
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