“Greater Roadrunner” by Carolina Fraser. Grand Prize Winner. Location: Los Novios Ranch, Cotulla, Texas
“In the midst of an evening dust bath, a Greater Roadrunner stands proudly, backlit by the sun. Brilliant, golden light exposes white-tipped tail feathers that contrast with downy feathers fanning out from its sides. Dust from a recent roll in the dirt lingers in the air.”
From nearly 2,500 entries, the top bird photographs were selected as winners of the 2021 Audubon Photography Awards. With participants from all 50 U.S. states, Washington D.C., and 10 Canadian provinces, the contest showed off the best of North American bird photography. Amateur photographer Carolina Fraser took home the Grand Prize for her delightful photo of a Greater Roadrunner.
Fraser won $5,000 for her efforts and her photograph, along with the other winners, will be featured in the summer edition of Audubon magazine. The winning image shows a Greater Roadrunner taking a dust bath as it is backlit by the sun. Fraser's masterful use of light creates a golden glow around this fast-moving bird. Taking into consideration its originality, technical quality, and artistic merit, the panel of expert judges deemed it the best of 2021.
Other highlights include, for the first time, the Female Bird Prize. With their understated plumage, female birds are often overlooked in bird photography and conservation. Elizabeth Yicheng Shen's photo of a female Northern Harrier in flight, wings outstretched, proves just how majestic female birds can be—even without the colorful feathers.
This year, the winning photographs will all participate in a virtual exhibition, which is aimed to make these images accessible to as many people as possible. And, if you can't get enough bird photography, the National Audubon Society has also released the top 100 photos from the 2021 competition.
Celebrate the beauty of North American birds with the 2021 Audubon Photography Awards.
“Northern Cardinal” by Steve Jessmore. Professional Award Winner. Location: Rural Muskegon County, Michigan
“A red male Northern Cardinal seems to float above the snowy ground, the crest feathers on its head blown backward in the wind as it flies in profile in front of gray plant stalks. The bird’s three wing feathers touch the white carpet of snow, its shadow connecting below.”
“Sandhill Crane” by Robin Ulery. Amateur Award Winner. Location: Johns Lake, Winter Garden, Florida
“A newborn Sandhill Crane colt rests atop its mother, its body curled around her red-crowned head. The colt’s orange and white fluffy body contrasts the mother’s blue-gray feathers, their profiles against a blurry yellow background.”
“Anna’s Hummingbird” by Patrick Coughlin. Fisher Prize. Location: Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve, Berkeley, California, USA
“More than a dozen purple blooms on a Pride of Madeira plant obscure all but a blurred wing and one eye of an Anna's Hummingbird. The hummingbird faces the viewer with its eye clearly visible between two flowers, appearing to be making eye contact with the photographer.”
“Canada Goose” by Josiah Launstein. Youth Honorable Mention. Location: Burnaby Lake, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
“On a still wetland with green grasses and brown reeds in the background, a Canada Goose flies up from the water, its wings outstretched and beak agape as another Canada Goose, wings bent at 90-degree angles, honks back. Several Green-winged Teal watch the scene from the water below.”
“Peregrine Falcon” by Tom Ingram. Amateur Honorable Mention. Location: La Jolla Cove, California, USA
“Atop a rocky cliff littered with feathers, a Peregrine Falcon stands with a red-crested Acorn Woodpecker in its bloodied talons. The tan and dark gray Falcon holds a feather in its beak as two other feathers, black at the top and white with blood stains at the bottom, float, crossing in midair.”
“Purple Sandpiper” by Arav Karighattam. Youth Award Winner. Location: Rockport, Massachusetts, USA
“On a wet, rocky shore, a Purple Sandpiper sits with its beak tucked under its brown and gray wing, the blurred blue ocean waves in the background.”
“Red-winged Blackbird and lily pad” by Shirley Donald. Plants For Birds Award Winner. Location: Blue Sea, Quebec, Canada
“Beak deep in a partially opened, yellow flower emerging from the water, a gray female Red-winged Blackbird stands balancing on a lily pad, her wings partially outstretched, revealing the touch of red on her shoulders. More yellow flowers color the background.”
“Anna’s Hummingbird and cattail” by Karen Boyer Guyton. Plants For Birds Honorable Mention. Location: Quilcene, Washington, USA
“The brown, cylindrical top of a cattail stands upright as a green Anna’s Hummingbird half its size pulls away seed fibers, their fluff extending from her beak to the top of the plant. The sunlit cattail is illuminated around the edges.”
“Northern Harrier” by Elizabeth Yicheng Shen. Location: Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont, California, USA.
“A female Northern Harrier flies over a wetland, her broad wings raised over her head. Her long tail striped with white and brown spreads out like a fan, her round face facing down.”
“Red-tailed Hawk” by Steve Jessmore. Professional Honorable Mention. Location: Kensington Metropark, Milford Township, Michigan, USA
“A Red-tailed Hawk holds an open-mouthed chipmunk in its yellow talons, the rodent’s head and front paws peeking out from a snowy perch. The raptor’s head bends low as it looks at its chipmunk prey, a piece of fur in its blue, pointed bill.”
My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by the National Audubon Society.