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
Professional Winner: Black-necked Stilts in California’s Merced National Wildlife Refuge
Amateur Winner: Long-tailed Tilt in Japan’s National Park
Youth Winner: Cobalt-winged Parakeets in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador
Professional Honorable Mention: Red-winged Blackbird in Merced National Wildlife Refuge, California
Amateur Honorable Mention: Wood Duck in Gwynns Falls, Maryland
Youth Honorable Mention: Bald Eagle Talons in Boundary Bay, British Columbia
Youth Honorable Mention: Fawn-breasted Brilliant in Mindo, Ecuador
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