2024 Audubon Photography Awards: Celebrating the Best Bird Photos

Now in its 15th year, the Audubon Photography Awards continues to celebrate the magic of bird photography, shining a spotlight on the stunning avian inhabitants of North America. Organized by the National Audubon Society, this competition is open to professional and amateur photographers of all ages, highlighting the beauty and diversity of bird species through the lens of talented photographers.

This year, Mathew Malwitz clinched the top prize with his captivating portrait of two Blackburnian warblers, captured in a strikingly symmetrical pose. Last year’s grand prize winner, Liron Gertsman, also made waves with his mesmerizing photo of a flock of willow ptarmigans blending into a snowy sky, earning him the professional category award. These remarkable images were selected from over 2,300 entries from across the United States, Canada, and beyond.

In a bid to emphasize the connection between birds and their habitats, the contest introduced the Birds in Landscapes Prize. This new category aims to highlight the integral relationship between birds and their environments. Kevin Lohman won the inaugural award with his evocative photograph of a California quail perched on a bush in a sprawling field, illustrating the delicate balance of nature.

However, the beauty captured in these photographs also serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by many bird species. According to the National Audubon Society’s climate science report, “Survival by Degrees,” two-thirds of North American birds, including the California quail and the Blackburnian warbler, are at risk of extinction due to climate change. The report includes a climate change visualizer tool that allows people to see how birds in their area are impacted by global warming.

By appreciating these stunning images and understanding the urgent threats to bird populations, we are reminded of our responsibility to protect the environment. These photos not only inspire awe but also motivate us to take action—both individually and collectively—to mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure a future where these beautiful birds continue to thrive.

Blackburnian Warbler by Mathew Malwitz/Audubon Photography Awards/2024 Grand Prize Winner
Location: Promised Land State Park, Pennsylvania, USA
“​​Two Blackburnian Warblers face each other in profile; their gray and white wings outstretched behind them. Their yellow heads and orange necks stand out against a blurred gray background, and their bills and feet are entangled.”
Forster’s Tern by Kevin Lohman/Audubon Photography Awards/2024 Professional Honorable Mention
Location: Shoreline Lake, Mountain View, California, USA
“A Forster’s Tern is in the air, its head turned almost 180 degrees so that its bill is pointing almost straight up, and its tail is twisted. The bird’s outstretched wings give the impression the bird is floating upside down. Water droplets appear in a stream from the bird’s bill and also below it.”
Red-necked Grebe by Edwin ​​Liu/Audubon Photography Awards/2024 Youth Honorable Mention
Location: Colonel Samuel Smith Park, Etobicoke, ON, Canada
“Two adult Red-necked Grebes face each other in the water. The entire grebe’s body on the right is visible, and two black and white-headed chicks sit on its back. One is leaning to receive a small fish from the bill of the parent.”
Sedge Wren and Gray-head Coneflower by Trisha Snider/Audubon Photography Awards/2024 Plants For Birds Honorable Mention
Location: John E Pearce Provincial Park, Wallacetown, Ontario, Canada
“A tiny russet brown Sedge Wren grasps two long, parallel stems as if they were stilts. The bird’s head looks to the left of the frame. Green grasses surround the bird, and yellow flowers are at the bottom of the image.”
American Kestrel by Parham Pourahmad/Audubon Photography Awards/2024 Youth Winner
Location: Calero County Park, San Jose, California, USA
“An American Kestrel stands on a post in profile, and a male kestrel is on her back with his wings stretched behind him. The birds are both in profile facing the left of the frame, the male above appearing to be an extension of the female below.”
Black-capped Chickadee and Broad-leaf Cattail by Linda Scher/Audubon Photography Awards/2024 Plants For Birds Winner
Location: Wood Lake Nature Center, Richfield, Minnesota, USA
“A Black-capped Chickadee clings to a single beige hook-shaped stem filled with seeds. The bird’s black legs appear to be spread at a 90-degree angle to hold the stem. The bird’s black bill is full of seeds.”
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