Third Place: 2022 Birds in Flight Competition

Barred Owl and Common Grackle

Third place in our Birds in Flight 2022 contest goes to Rebecca DePorte from Princeton, New Jersey. In mid-April 2022, Rebecca observed a barred owl at Blue Cypress Lake in Vero Beach, Florida.

“Suddenly three grackles appeared and started flying towards the owl,” she said. “At first the owl sat up and refused to leave its perch, but after four grackle attacks it began to change position and stare across the lake. I raised my camera and I started taking pictures just as it took off from the tree. To my amazement, one of the grackles had landed on the owl’s back and, carrying its meal, an anole lizard , seemed to be hitchhiking across the lake with the owl.

Grackles harassed the owl – a behavior in which small birds gang up on large owls and raptors to drive them away from nests or other sensitive sites. Rebecca won third place with the image, a terrific illustration of mobbing behavior.

She took the photo with a Nikon Z 9 and a 500mm f/5.6 lens. Exposure data: 1/3200 @ f/8.0, ISO 12800, exposure compensation +0.33.

Many thanks to our panel of guest judges: editors Laura Erickson, Pete Dunne and Brian E. Small; professional photographer Marie Read; Outdoor photographer editors Dan Havlik and Kristan Ashworth; And Imagery resource Editor William Brawley.

See the first place winner

See the second place winner

See the finalists

Participate in our 2023 BirdWatching Photography Awards

See also  Third Place: 2022 Bird Portrait Contest