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2019 Bird Portrait Contest finalists

In the last few months of 2019, BirdWatching received more than 1,000 submissions to our Bird Portrait Contest from hundreds of photographers. The contest drew an exceptional selection of photos, making the judges’ job quite difficult, and now we’re happy to present the 12 finalist images in this slideshow.


Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Photographer: Scott Zimmerman

Location and date: Columbus, Ohio, February 14, 2015

Description: On Valentine's Day 2015, I had wandered over to the local metro park in Columbus. Blendon Woods Metro Park has a nice nature center that serves as a hub for several interesting trails throughout the park. On this particular day, a rather strong snowstorm was winding up, and by the time I had made it to the park's nature center, it had dumped several inches of snow on the area. The very hilly entrance road to the park had to be closed for plowing because it was impassible, so I was stranded in the park until the road could be cleared. I decided to poke around the grounds of the nature center, and as I sat at a picnic table on the patio to watch the snow, I noticed this Cooper's Hawk sitting at almost eye-level in a small bush next to the building. He had obviously just eaten, and was clearly uninterested in moving from his perch. Some snow had gathered on his head, which did not seem to bother him one bit. We sat there together for several minutes before I decided to leave him alone and went back inside the warm nature center. This was one of my favorite days of shooting nature ever, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

Gear and settings: Canon T5i and a Sigma 120-400mm lens at 400m; Exposure: 0.3 steps, f/5.6, exposure time 1/80 second, and ISO 160

UPDATE: View the first-place, second-place, and third-place winners!

View the Bird Portrait Contest honorable mention images

View the winners of our 2019 BirdWatching Photography Awards

Enter the 2020 BirdWatching Photography Awards

Enter Outdoor Photographer’s 2020 The American Landscape Photo Contest

Originally Published

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Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of BirdWatching magazine and You can reach him at

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