Winners of the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards Celebrate the Beauty of Birds

Portrait of Two Rock Pigeons

Rock Pigeons by Liron Gertsman/Audubon Photography Awards/2023 Grand Prize Winner.
Location: White Rock, British Columbia, Canada
“Two pigeons face left in profile, each with one orange eye in view against a black background. One bird is preening the other, its bill buried in gray, green, and purple iridescent feathers.”

Now in its 14th year, the Audubon Photography Awards spotlights the professionals, amateurs, and youth that create incredible visuals of birds. The recently announced winners of the 2023 edition were selected from 2,200 entrants living in all 50 U.S. states and eight Canadian provinces.

In the end, wildlife photographer Liron Gertsman took home the grand prize. The Canadian photographer, who has a biology degree and leads photography tours across Canada, won for his touching portrait of two rock pigeons. Gertsman is only 23, but he's already making a name for himself in the field. After winning the Professional category in the 2022 edition of the contest, he was able to rise to the top and nab the $5,000 cash prize.

Amateur photographer Karen Blackwood was singled out for her stunning photograph of a chinstrap penguin. Her image of the penguin diving from an iceberg into the cool waters of Cierva Cove in Antarctica won the Amateur category. Kieran Barlow, who won the Youth category, didn't have to travel far from home for his award-winning photo. The 18-year-old photographer from Massachusetts took his delightful photo of a sandpiper frolicking by the water on the coast of New Jersey.

All of the winners and honorable mentions were closely vetted by an expert panel of judges that includes wildlife photographers, conservationists, and staff from the National Audubon Society. Scroll down for more of the winning photographs and enjoy this look at our feathered friends in their natural environment.

For the 14th year, the Audubon Photography Awards celebrates the art of bird photography.

Chinstrap penguin diving from an iceberg into the water

Chinstrap Penguin by Karen Blackwood/Audubon Photography Awards/2023 Amateur Winner
Location: Near Esperanza Station in Cierva Cove, Antarctica
“A Chinstrap Penguin, wings outstretched, dives from an iceberg. Head down, its bill is nearly touching the water’s surface. In the background, a white and blue iceberg is capped with fresh white snow. Deeply etched lines on the iceberg’s sides appear like hashtags behind the black bird.”

Sandpiper jumping on rocks

Dunlin by Kieran Barlow/Audubon Photography Awards/2023 Youth Winner
Location: Barnegat Light, New Jersey, USA
“A sandpiper in profile appears to have jumped from the rocks to avoid an incoming wave. The bird’s wings are behind its body, its feet just above the rock in front of a background of water droplets from the surf.”

Atlantic puffin sitting on craggy cliffside

Atlantic Puffin by Shane Kalyn/Audubon Photography Awards/2023 Professional Winner
Location: Westman Islands, Iceland
“An Atlantic Puffin sits on the edge of a craggy cliffside, its head turned to the left, its white breast in sharp contrast to the gray background. Lime green algae and small purple wildflowers drape the cliff, breaking up the otherwise dark image.”

Female Baltimore Oriole sitting on a perch with grass in her bill

Baltimore Oriole by Sandra M. Rothenberg/Audubon Photography Awards/2023 Female Bird Prize Winner
Location: Warren, PA, USA
“A bright yellow female Baltimore Oriole with thin light strands of grass held in her bill perches at the end of a branch and faces to the right in the frame. The strands billow around her, slightly out of focus, in front of a blurred green background.”

Northern Hawk Owl Perched on the Top of a Snowy Tree

Northern Hawk Owl by Liron Gertsman/Audubon Photography Awards/2023 Professional Honorable Mention
Location: Thompson-Nicola, British Columbia, Canada
“A Northern Hawk Owl looks directly into the camera as it perches at the tip of a frost-covered tree. Dark pine cones on the bare branches stand out against a white background, mirroring the pattern of the owl’s dark breast feathers.”

Tree swallos sitting on and flying around a cypress tree

Tree Swallows and bald cypress by Vicki Santello/Audubon Photography Awards/2023 Plants For Birds Honorable Mention
Location: Atchafalaya Swamp, Louisiana, USA
“Thousands of Tree Swallows sit on two cypress snags in a swamp, looking like leaves. One tree is larger in the foreground and the other is smaller in the background. More birds fly around the trees, their dark forms in contrast to the purple and blue sky.”

North America's top bird photographers submitted their work for consideration.

Reddish Egret standing in shallow water while eating a fish

Reddish Egret by Nathan Arnold /Audubon Photography Awards/2023 Amateur Honorable Mention
Location: San Carlos Bay – Bunche Beach Preserve, Fort Myers, Florida, USA
“A Reddish Egret stands in shallow water against a blurred yellow background, its body facing left and its wings open behind it. A small fish and water droplets are suspended in the air in front of the bird’s open bill.”

Brown pelican on the water with shark swimming below

Brown Pelican by Sunil Gopalan/Audubon Photography Awards/2023 Fisher Prize Winner
Location: Galapagos National Park, Ecuador
“A Brown Pelican at the top of the frame sits in the water, its wings pulled behind its body. In the dark water below is the crescent silhouette of a shark, its snout nearly touching the pelican.”

Gray Verdin bird perched on a cacti

Verdin and cane cholla by Linda Scher/Audubon Photography Awards/2023 Plants For Birds Winner
Location: Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson, Arizona, USA
“A gray Verdin with a yellow head and a small rust-colored patch on its wing stands in profile on a broken cacti branch that’s white, brown, and green. The bird carries a pale green caterpillar in its bill.”

The winners were selected from 2,200 entries.

A male Green-winged Teal sits on top of a female in the water

Green-winged Teal by James Fatemi/Audubon Photography Awards/2023 Youth Honorable Mention
Location: Huntley Meadows Park, Alexandria, Virginia, USA
“A male Green-winged Teal sits on top of a female in the water, his bill appearing to push the female’s head down. His brown and green head stands out against an otherwise gray background with blurred snowflakes around the frame.”

National Audubon Society: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by the National Audubon Society.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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