Our Favored Female Bird Pictures From the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards

Female birds continue on to delight and encourage us. From the delicate magnificence of a Spruce Grouse hen to the daring russet patches on a Purple-necked Phalarope, the woman birds featured in this gallery captured the eyes and imaginations of photographers from across North America who entered the female bird classification of the 2023 Audubon Pictures Awards.

Introduced in 2021 to phone notice to some of the most overlooked birds in the world, the female bird group issues photographers to aim their cameras and focus on the intercourse that is also typically overlooked. Even though these shots did not acquire any of the major prizes—you can see all of the winners here—we could not support but share these similarly inspiring images. You can also come across additional wonderful images from this year’s level of competition in our annual Top 100 review. 

If soon after perusing the under gallery you obtain your self motivated to decide up a digital camera and photograph avians on your own, our photography section has everything you need to get began, including tips and how-to’s and Audubon’s ethical guidelines for wildlife pictures. Then get out there and begin documenting your favorite winged subjects—male and female. 

Northern Cardinal by Nicole Land (earlier mentioned)

Spot: Cotulla, Texas
At the rear of the Shot: I was taking a pictures workshop and exploring diverse digicam bodies and lenses when I took this photograph. When applying the Canon R5 (600mm lens) in shutter manner, we centered on the widespread birds in front of us—which transpired to be a beautiful woman Northern Cardinal bathing at the chicken blind. Tub time is a excellent option to observe pictures abilities like the relevance of shutter speeds versus aperture settings. This cardinal observed me taking pictures and didn’t seem to be to care. The tub was way much more essential, so I was ready to get numerous shots of different bathing poses. 
Woman ID tip: Feminine Northern Cardinals are easily identifiable with their magnificent beige and subtle red plumage. 

Belted Kingfisher by Jerry amEnde

Site: Bombay Hook Countrywide Wildlife Refuge, Delaware
Behind the Shot: Belted Kingfishers are a single of the most skittish birds to photograph. As soon as you get out of the auto, they are just about absolutely sure to fly away. For that reason, the method I have produced to photograph them is to find a most loved perch that the birds routinely return to, park a respectful distance absent, and wait around whilst working with the car or truck as a blind. I identified just one these types of perch at Bombay Hook Countrywide Wildlife Refuge and shot several illustrations or photos of this female. Then, all of a sudden, she flew off the perch, and I was able to catch a photo of her in lovely morning light.
Female ID Idea: In Belted Kingfishers, the reddish patches on the upper body and sides are only current in girls.

Costa’s Hummingbird by Melissa Harnish

Area: Oro Valley, Arizona
Guiding the Shot: Photographing hummingbirds has generally been an obsession of mine. There is a thing about the depth of their tiny feathers and straw-like tongues that fascinates me. On this certain morning, I experienced long gone outside my household, espresso in hand, when I discovered this female Costa’s Hummingbird flitting from flower to flower. There was a little something about her simple green iridescent feathers versus the vivid orange bouquets of the Mexican Chicken of Paradise that compelled me to grab my camera. Minor did I know that capturing this impression would occupy my time for numerous hours each time I lifted my digicam to click on the shutter, she would dart away, leaving me to patiently wait around for her return. Immediately after numerous hrs, I ultimately bought the shot.  
Woman ID suggestion: Woman Costa’s Hummingbirds are over-all environmentally friendly and grey, and absence the male’s shiny magenta-purple gorget and head feathers. 

Pine Grosbeak by Yan Zhang

Spot: Pickering, Ontario, Canada
Driving the Shot: Pine Grosbeaks are a superb wintertime hen, but they are reasonably uncommon in Southern Ontario, as they breed in Northern Canada and the western large mountain locations throughout North The united states. This impression was taken for the duration of an “irruption year,” when Pine Grosbeaks fly south in look for of food items. Photographing this feminine was genuinely difficult for the reason that the birds had been shy and so occupied feeding on the berries on the trees. Thankfully, immediately after traveling away, they came back within an hour, and I captured this impression utilizing a 600mm lens to retain my length.
Woman ID Tip: Feminine Pine Grosbeak can be identified by their gray and yellow feathers males are pinkish crimson.

Gambel’s Quail by Jen Shepherd

Site: Scottsdale, Arizona
Powering the Shot: In January, my two daughters and I spent a week in stunning Scottsdale for our winter season vacation. Back in the 1990s l lived in the desert and loved just about every second. As a lifelong photographer, I hoped to just take some wildlife images on this trip and packed my Sony Alpha 7 IV with a 200-600mm lens. Ahead of dawn, I made the decision to hike up a compact ridge to see what animals may be waking up. I noticed a team of birds skittering about but could not discover them because it was nevertheless also dim. Soon, nevertheless, it was vibrant plenty of for me to see that they were Gambel’s Quail. This woman paused in close proximity to some rose petals, so I crouched down as low as I could and began photographing. I waited patiently right up until she turned her head a bit and then snapped the shutter. A person 2nd afterwards the team ambled away. 
Feminine ID Tip: The lighter brown feathers and brief plume reveal a woman Gambel’s Quail males have black facial feathers and a substantially far more distinguished, curled plume.

Wood Duck by Tammy Kokjohn

Location: Santee, California
At the rear of the Shot: Each individual spring I return to one particular of my favorite nearby lakes to see the freshly hatched Wooden Duck ducklings. 1 April morning I promptly spotted a Wood Duck hen with ducklings in the length. I observed a tender patch of grass some length away to sit sustaining a respectful length is very important in enabling older people and their ducklings to not really feel threatened and for me to witness their genuine behavior. When I to start with noticed this spouse and children, they were foraging together the shoreline, nibbling the freshly sprouted grasses. Before long the hen herded her infants with each other and guided them up the slope to lay in the patch of grass for nap time. As they started to relax, a single minimal duckling curled up close to the mom, and a second hopped on her back, sharing what seemed to me like an expression of really like. These cute little one ducklings melted my heart. 
ID Tip: Feminine Wood Ducks seem like a significantly far more understated variation of the male. They have the exact same backswept crest and stately condition, but in which the males are boldly plumed the ladies sport sensitive beige and iridescent blue-purple. Ladies also activity a sturdy white eye ring. 

American Kestrel by Robert Kaplan

Place: Brooklyn, New York
Powering the Shot: Kestrels have usually been 1 of my beloved birds to photograph—small, vibrant, and extremely photogenic. For the past many years there have been just one or two locations about New York the place kestrels reliably feed on voles and bugs. A person of those people places is at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. The obstacle in capturing this shot was generating an educated guess to which of the obtainable perches the kestrel was going to land on. I positioned myself with the sun at my again and tracked the flight of the bird as it approached a close by perch. When he flew off it and went to the floor in search of food items, I was ready, capturing the bird’s return flight and the bug in its beak. I was gratified to see later on that I had also captured, in my experience, a unique wing position. In documenting this conduct, I hope the public will see the elegance and ferociousness in North America’s littlest falcon.
Woman ID Suggestion: Female American Kestrels have a quantity of plumage variations from males, but the most noticeable one in this picture is the darkish barring alongside each individual tail feather. Male American Kestrel tail feathers are completely red with a black idea.

Bushtit by Ethan Cleveland

Area: Denver, Colorado
At the rear of the Shot: Early a single morning I stepped out on my back deck to enjoy the little flock of Bushtits I observed patrolling my hen feeder. I pulled out my Nikon D3200 and a 300mm F4 lens that my grandpa had lended me and commenced using some experimental pictures of the birds. I was experiencing identifying the distinct eyes of the males and the females when I seen 1 individual yellow-eyed feminine edging confidently together a twig toward where I was crouching, intent on the chook feeder. I elevated my digicam, cautiously placed my concentration place on the bird’s eye, modified my shutter speed to 1/1000 of a second, and was blessed plenty of to attain this sharp image!
Female ID Tip: Woman Bushtits are simple to recognize when you know what to glance for: In contrast to males and juveniles, which have dark brown irises, feminine Bushtits have light yellowish-olive eyes.

Black-throated Blue Warbler by ML Strahlendorff

Locale: Metuchen, New Jersey
Behind the Shot: About 10 many years in the past I began turning what experienced been a standard suburban yard into a chemical-free habitat yard filled with indigenous plants and birdbaths. A person of my terrific benefits has been the visits by migratory birds who stop to glean insects, eat seeds and berries, consume, and bathe. 1 of the most common spots in the yard is this bubbler fountain produced from rocks salvaged from a area excavation work. The massive rock that serves as the system has a natural, shallow depression just deep enough for modest birds to safely and securely splash. I experienced been viewing the Black-and-white Warbler in the front when I observed the Black-throated Blue feminine peering out from behind the leading rock, intently eying the Black-and-white and the spot it was having fun with. 
Feminine ID Tip: Female Black-throated Blue Warblers seem fairly distinctive from their male counterparts, but both equally sexes share 1 industry mark that lets you know what species you are wanting at: a small white patch on every wing. No other North American warbler has this handy plumage element.

Yellow Warbler by Heather Mall

Locale: Richard Bong State Recreation Region, Wisconsin
Behind the Shot: We frequented Richard Bong Condition Recreation Location in hopes of photographing Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Although driving by means of, there were a number of birds we were listening to, but few we had been looking at. It seemed like it was going to commence raining, so we parked our car or truck at one of the stops and listened to the lovely chook phone calls. I was looking out the auto window with my digicam when I seen motion in the bushes in front of me. A female Yellow Warbler popped up and commenced foraging by way of the boughs. I was in awe of her wonderful plumage from the greenery and began using shots. Hunting back again at my photographs, I saw this one particular. It is really one particular of my preferred photographs that I have ever taken, and for me, it’s a reminder that anything modest can effect your everyday living in a huge, gorgeous way.
Woman ID Tip: Woman Yellow Warblers are brilliant pure yellow and lack the reddish upper body streaks commonly found on male Yellow Warblers.

 Eastern Bluebird by Yan Zhang

Location: Pickering, Ontario, Canada
Guiding the Shot: Immediately after a day of freezing rain and a sudden fall in temperature, the trees and vegetation ended up wholly lined in ice. Almost everything was frozen! For me, images is about more than obtaining stunning photographs I want to understand about chicken habits and doc it by way of my lens. So I went to see how the birds survived these a critical improve in weather conditions. The good thing is, I found this female Eastern Bluebird perched on the department of a fruit tree.
Female ID Tip: Jap Bluebird females like this one particular are frequently lighter in color than their in the same way marked male counterparts.

Crimson-necked Phalarope by Mike Diersing

Spot: Nome, Alaska
Powering the Shot: Sitting down at the edge of a pond in upper body waders, I was searching to photograph grebes. Toward the heart of the pond, just further than some grasses, I observed a cluster of Red-necked Phalaropes foraging in their distinctive zig-zag sample. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I observed a lone feminine phalarope in spectacular complete breeding plumage making a beeline towards the group. Contemplating I was most likely as well late, I managed to purchase emphasis and get a sharp shot of her banking in a ventral pose, calling to announce, “Hey people, I am again!” I was so thrilled to get a sharp flight shot that I missed the 5 or so gallons of ice-chilly Alaskan pond drinking water that came around the best of my waders! 
Female ID Tip: Like the Belted Kingfisher, phalaropes are the uncommon North American species the place the ladies are extra colourful than the males. In this situation, the shiny pink neck and darkish facial feathers show that this chicken is woman.

Spruce Grouse by Mark Staples

Site: Excellent National Forest, Minnesota
Powering the Shot: Although on a July hike in Top-quality Nationwide Forest, I discovered various younger Spruce Grouse chicks experienced instantly appeared between the undergrowth, calmly foraging along the mountaineering path. They seemed entirely unaffected by my accidental intrusion and continued to wander in all directions in look for of meals. As I reached for my digital camera, the mother hopped on to a nearby log to get a nearer seem at me. Before she returned to her brood, I was ready to make an intimate portrait of the hen and her intricate feather pattern in opposition to a vivid environmentally friendly backdrop. As equally a birder and a conservationist, it was an amazing experience to enjoy this resident of the coniferous forest thrive in a shielded habitat.
Feminine ID Idea: Feminine Spruce Grouse are in general speckled brown, although males’ heads and necks are typically black.

Laysan Albatross by Hob Osterlund

Location: Kīlauea, Kaua’i, Hawaii
Guiding the Shot: Laysan Albatross, like all other albatross species, are regarded for affectionate behaviors with their mates and chicks. Unmated pairs can also be extremely demonstrative with every single other, and so can mated pairs who occur to be taking the year off from nesting. These two females, a regarded mated pair that skipped the breeding year, achieved up at the edge of a field in a colony where by they generally nest, absent from the other birds, for a session of preening, snuggling, and napping. These displays are prevalent between mōlī, as they are recognized in the Hawaiian language. Due to the fact it was a late winter season afternoon, the sun’s long rays put a spotlight on their bodies but stored the woods and the ravine driving them dark. I sat on the ground about 50 feet absent and took a collection of pictures. The birds appeared oblivious to me. 
Female ID Tip: Laysan Albatross males and women have very similar plumage, but males can be up to 25 per cent a lot more large than girls. Female-female pairs can be determined by the existence of two eggs in a single nest. 

Maria Lewis

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