Birding: Photo contest results

This past week we tallied the votes for our annual wild bird photo contest at all three store locations, and it was interesting to see the results. Each year our customers do the voting. They can select their top four favorite pictures — first, second and third place, and honorable mention. After tallying up the votes, we came up with the results.

At the Flagstaff store, the first-place picture was of a hummingbird, both second- and third-place pictures were of western bluebirds, and honorable mention was a hummingbird. It was interesting to me that out of all of the pictures submitted, two of the winning pictures were hummingbirds and two were of bluebirds.

At the Sedona store, both the first- and second-place pictures were of hummingbirds, third place was an elf owl, and honorable mention was a fledgling cardinal, fresh out of the nest.

At the Prescott store, the first-place picture was a great blue heron, second place was an osprey, third place was a hummingbird, and honorable mention was another osprey picture. Both the great blue heron and one of the osprey pictures were taken at Lynx Lake.

I was really surprised that of the four winning pictures at the Prescott store, two of them were ospreys. Ospreys are not very common in Arizona, as 97 percent of their diet is fish, and we don’t have many lakes in Arizona! In fact, we only have two natural lakes in the entire state — all of our other “lakes” are man-made reservoirs.

Out of 12 winning entries, five of the pictures were of hummingbirds, two were of western bluebirds, two were ospreys, and the remaining pictures were a heron, an owl, and a cardinal.

The guidelines for this annual event are pretty broad — we don’t limit entries to pictures of birds in the United States, or even in the state of Arizona. I have always been of the opinion that I don’t care where the pictures are taken, as long as it is of a bird in the wild.

Over the years, many customers have suggested that the contest should

be restricted to birds found only in the United States, and that we might have a separate category for birds photographed outside of the United States.

However, I have found that the winning pictures are invariably of birds not just from the United States, but specifically from Arizona. This year, of the 12 winning pictures, 11 of them were taken in Arizona. Interestingly, there is nothing on the pictures to indicate where they were taken.

Last year, all four winning entries for the Prescott store were taken in Arizona. It would seem that even though the contest is open to pictures of birds taken anywhere in the world, somehow our customers settle on the birds they have a familiarity with and that they perhaps enjoy in their own yards, such as bluebirds or hummingbirds.

One thing the first-place pictures had in common was action. The great blue heron picture is so striking! It is an action shot of a heron with a large fish in its beak that it had just grabbed, and the water is splashing upward and outward from the point of impact. The osprey picture is also an action shot with a large catfish in the osprey’s talons as it comes up out of the water. The first-place hummingbird picture has both a bee and a hummingbird visiting the same flower.

I invite you to come take a look at the winning pictures — they will be on display at each store location until next year’s photo contest.

Until next week, Happy Birding!

Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, with three locations in northern Arizona – Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff. Eric has been an avid birder for over 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at eric@jaysbirdbarn.com.