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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.


Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Photographer: Aimee Grace

Location and date: Delray Beach, Florida, October 2019

While walking the relaxing boardwalks of the Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach one hot October morning in the fall of 2019, I could see a cormorant just ahead of me, perched on the boardwalk’s railing. He seemed to be gazing out over the wetlands with no evident point of interest. Having no tripod to encumber me (honestly, I never use one), I slowly continued my walk toward him, taking shots with my Canon EOS 60D and a Canon 70-300mm zoom lens. I approached him cautiously, not wanting to frighten him away. As I got closer, I swapped the lens for a Canon 18-135mm. His eyes sparkled like the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, drawing me in with their brilliance. Cormorants are native to this area and can be seen almost anywhere, from the protected wetlands to the canals of brackish waters on which I reside.

Gear and settings: Canon EOS 60D, Canon 18-135mm lens. Exposure: 135mm, f/7.1, 1/320 sec, ISO 100, exposure bias +0.3 step, max aperture 5, shooting mode automatic.

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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