The Great Backyard Bird Count is a continent-spanning attempt to count birds over a single weekend in February that draws nearly 100,000 checklists from bird watchers all over the U.S. and Canada. People also send us thousands of pictures for our annual photo contest, which is sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited and Droll Yankees.
Once again this year the photos were stunning, from an elegant American Tree Sparrow to an acrobatic, snake-snatching Red-shouldered Hawk. Our judges have now made their choices and we are delighted to present the 2011 winners and runners-up, chosen from nearly 6,000 images submitted. The photos are beautiful, and the data from all those checklists help scientists get a picture of bird populations across North America.
This year’s overall winner is Lesley Mattuchio with her American Tree Sparrow image (above, with the other four winners in the Overall category). We judge photos in five other categories, too. This year the winners were:
Habitat: Norm Dougan, British Columbia
Group: Jeannette Tasey, Montana
Behavior: Harold Izenwasser, Florida
People: Donna Salko, Pennsylvania
Composition: Cathy Willis, Texas
Visit the GBBC website to see the top five photos in each of the six categories (my own favorite is the Red-breasted Nuthatch raiding Douglas-fir cones). This annual announcement also serves as a reminder that the 2012 GBBC is less than three months away. Mark your calendars now for Feb. 17–20!
Congratulations to all the finalists and to everyone who took the time to send us photos. Thanks to Wild Birds Unlimited and Droll Yankees for donating great prizes. The bar has been set very high—we look forward to your lenswork for the 2012 GBBC!
(Images are the winners in the Overall category of the 2011 Great Backyard Bird Count photo contest: American Tree Sparrow by Lesley Mattuchio, Common Poorwill by Allan J. Sander, Northern Saw-whet Owl by Nick Saunders, Northern Flicker by Gary Mueller, Pine Grosbeak by Norm Dougan. Visit the GBBC site to see the rest of the winners.)