I admire the tenacity of wildlife photographers, especially those who shoot birds. The patience, drive, and focus required—sometimes helped with a pinch of luck—to capture great images of birds is an art form in and of itself. And, while I don’t have the desire to go out in a blind and wait with a very long lens, I appreciate those who are masters of the form. That’s why it was great to see the 2018 Audubon Photography Awards posted this week.

There are some wonderful photographs in this year’s collection, including the Grand Prize winner, a great gray owl captured in Wyoming by Steve Mattheis, and Scott Suriano’s portrait of a wood duck on an icy pond (Steve’s story about the shot is quite entertaining). I think my favorite, however, is Liron Gertsman’s photo of a bald eagle’s talons wrapped on a perch. Liron has three award-winning photos in the youth section, all of which are quite different, but showcase an up-and-coming wildlife photographer.

From the Audubon website:

This year, more than 8,000 photos were entered in our ninth annual contest. That’s almost 2,500 more than last year, and entrants came from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and 10 Canadian provinces But no matter where they were taken, all of the images evoke the splendor, resilience, and ingenuity of birdlife.

We also had a first for the awards this year. Because our selection process is blind, judges realized only after casting their votes that a single photographer had swept an entire category: youth. You can see all three images from Liron Gertsman, our youth winner, below, as well as the adult winners and honorable mentions. Congratulations to all featured here, and thank you to each and every entrant for your dedication to birds.