The Year’s Most Beautiful (And Bizarre) Bird Photography

Since 1905, the National Audubon Society has dedicated itself to the appreciation of birds in all their fine feathered splendor. The annual Audubon Photography Awards haven’t been around for nearly as long–just seven years–but the content is in many ways the purest expression of the Society’s mission: to highlight the fragile beauty of our nation’s birds.

Fine Art Winner/Green VioletearBarbara Driscoll/Audubon Photography Awards

The 2016 Audubon Photography Awards garnered almost 7,000 entries across 1,700 photographers, competing in five categories for $2,500 each. The winning photograph was Bonnie Block’s majestic shot of a bald eagle swooping in on a great blue heron, but not all of the winning photographs featured such iconic birds. Subjects spanned birds small (a green violetear, nodding off on a branch; a baby piping plover, standing in the sand with its mother), medium (two ravens, butting heads in the snow), and large (two great frigatebirds).

Grand Prize Winner/Bald Eagle, Great Blue HeronBonnie Block/Audubon Photography Awards

Sadly, the National Audubon Society says that half of the birds in the winning and honored photos belong to the 314 species identified as threatened or endangered by climate change. Unless we find better ways to protect them from rising tides, colder winters, and hotter climates, photos might one day be all we have of these birds.

You can read more information about the birds in the winning photographs and see the top 100 running up entries here.

All Photos: courtesy Audubon Photography Awards