Audubon Society Announces 2018 Photography Winners And It's Every Bird Nerd's Dream

This photo of a Great Gray Owl Teton County, Wyoming, took home the grand prize. Steve Mattheis

The Audubon Society announced winners for its 2018 Photography Awards and if you’re not already a bird enthusiast, then prepare yourself to be convinced otherwise.

Three winners were picked from more than 8,000 entries submitted by photographers from all 50 US states and 10 Canadian provinces for the annual contest’s ninth year. Winners were chosen based on the image’s technical quality, originality, and artistic merit, with the grand prize winner receiving $5,000.

IFLScience spoke with the Audubon Society, who says this year’s contest is in celebration of the many bird species protected under the 100-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which they say is “the most important bird conservation law” under attack by the current administration. 

“It’s important to remember that maintaining healthy populations of birds to photograph requires the thoughtful application of conservation policies like the [MBTA] and the Endangered Species Act,” said Sabine Meyer, contest judge and director of photography for society. “At the end of the day, we hope people look at these photos and leave with a renewed passion for birds and appreciation for the natural world.”

The treaty protects more than 1,000 migratory birds by making it illegal for anyone to possess, transport, or sell the bird, its nests, or eggs. It’s meant to help offset the tens of millions of birds who die each year from human-made infrastructure, oil spills, and pesticides, according to the New York Times. However, the Department of the Interior has moved a different translation of the act that lets companies not engage in preventative measures so long as they are not intentionally trying to kill species of migratory birds.

Audubon has designated 2018 as “Year of the Bird” to bring attention to the century-old act, which the society says protects many of the birds in this year’s winning photographs.

So, without further ado, here are the winners:

Grand Prize Winner: Great Gray Owl in Teton County, Wyoming

This photo of a Great Gray Owl in Teton County, Wyoming, took home the grand prize. Steve Mattheis

Professional Winner: Black-necked Stilts in California's Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Black-necked Stilts in California's Merced National Wildlife Refuge was awarded the Professional Winner. Gary R. Zahm

Amateur Winner: Long-tailed Tilt in Japan's National Park

A Long-tailed Tit. Photo photographed in Japan's Akan National Park won the amateur category. Diana Rebman

Youth Winner: Cobalt-winged Parakeets in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador

This photo of Cobalt-winged Parakeets in Ecuador's Yasuni National Park was awarded the youth winner. Liron Gertsman

Professional Honorable Mention: Red-winged Blackbird in Merced National Wildlife Refuge, California

This photo of a Red-winged Blackbird from Merced National Wildlife Refuge in California received the Professionable Honorable Mention. Donald Quintana

 Amateur Honorable Mention: Wood Duck in Gwynns Falls, Maryland 

Amateur honorable mention goes to this photo of a Wood Duck in Gwynns Falls, Maryland. Scott Suriano

Youth Honorable Mention: Bald Eagle Talons in Boundary Bay, British Columbia

Bald Eagle talons pictured in Boundary Bay, British Columbia, was given honorary mention in the youth category. Liron Gertsman

Youth Honorable Mention: Fawn-breasted Brilliant in Mindo, Ecuador

Fawn-breasted Brilliant captured in Mindo, Ecuador took home the award for Youth Honorable Mention. Liron Gertsman

    

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