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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.


White-tailed Ptarmigan

White-tailed Ptarmigan

Photographer: Kerry Hargrove

Location and date: Guanella Pass, Colorado, November 23, 2017

Description: After a tough hike through the deep snow in windy conditions, I found some White-tailed Ptarmigans to photograph and hang out with. After some time I took a break and sat down in the snow to eat a snack when I looked over to see this ptarmigan poking its head out of the snow from below. Not sure what I was looking at, I just sat and stared until it disappeared back into the snow.

I didn't see any tracks or a pathway to its location, and I realized that it must have tunneled through the snow -- something I had never seen before. I quickly finished up my snack, grabbed my camera, adjusted the settings, and hoped to see it again. About two minutes later, it peeked its head up again and this time I was ready. I have not witnessed this behavior since. Happy Thanksgiving to me!

Gear and settings: Nikon D850; Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm - 500mm F/5.6E ED VR ; 1/1600 at f/7.1 ISO 320.

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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