Our Preferred Female Chook Pictures From the 2023 Audubon Pictures Awards

Ora Sawyers

Woman birds continue on to delight and encourage us. From the refined splendor of a Spruce Grouse hen to the daring russet patches on a Purple-necked Phalarope, the feminine birds showcased in this gallery captured the eyes and imaginations of photographers from across North America who entered the feminine fowl class of the 2023 Audubon Pictures Awards.

Launched in 2021 to connect with interest to some of the most forgotten birds in the environment, the female fowl group worries photographers to aim their cameras and attention on the sex that is too generally ignored. Even though these shots failed to take any of the leading prizes—you can see all of the winners here—we couldn’t assist but share these equally inspiring photographs. You can also find additional incredible pictures from this year’s competitiveness in our annual Top 100 review. 

If following perusing the under gallery you come across yourself motivated to choose up a digital camera and photograph avians on your individual, our photography section has everything you need to have to get started, including tips and how-to’s and Audubon’s ethical guidelines for wildlife photography. Then get out there and begin documenting your favorite winged subjects—male and female. 

Northern Cardinal by Nicole Land (over)

Location: Cotulla, Texas
Guiding the Shot: I was having a pictures workshop and discovering diverse camera bodies and lenses when I took this photograph. While applying the Canon R5 (600mm lens) in shutter method, we targeted on the frequent birds in front of us—which happened to be a stunning woman Northern Cardinal bathing at the bird blind. Tub time is a terrific prospect to practice photography expertise like the worth of shutter speeds vs . aperture options. This cardinal noticed me capturing and didn’t appear to care. The bath was way additional vital, so I was able to get many photographs of various bathing poses. 
Feminine ID idea: Woman Northern Cardinals are conveniently identifiable with their magnificent beige and subtle red plumage. 

Belted Kingfisher by Jerry amEnde

Spot: Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware
Powering the Shot: Belted Kingfishers are a single of the most skittish birds to photograph. As before long as you get out of the auto, they are virtually absolutely sure to fly away. Thus, the system I have developed to photograph them is to obtain a favourite perch that the birds frequently return to, park a respectful distance away, and hold out when using the car as a blind. I found just one this sort of perch at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge and shot several illustrations or photos of this feminine. Then, quickly, she flew off the perch, and I was equipped to capture a photo of her in beautiful morning gentle.
Woman ID Tip: In Belted Kingfishers, the reddish patches on the upper body and sides are only current in girls.

Costa’s Hummingbird by Melissa Harnish

Location: Oro Valley, Arizona
At the rear of the Shot: Photographing hummingbirds has generally been an obsession of mine. There is some thing about the detail of their small feathers and straw-like tongues that fascinates me. On this unique morning, I experienced long gone outside my property, espresso in hand, when I recognized this woman Costa’s Hummingbird flitting from flower to flower. There was some thing about her basic inexperienced iridescent feathers in opposition to the shiny orange flowers of the Mexican Hen of Paradise that compelled me to get my digital camera. Small did I know that capturing this picture would occupy my time for several hrs each and every time I elevated my camera to click the shutter, she would dart away, leaving me to patiently wait around for her return. Immediately after a number of hrs, I ultimately received the shot.  
Woman ID idea: Female Costa’s Hummingbirds are overall environmentally friendly and gray, and lack the male’s vivid magenta-purple gorget and head feathers. 

Pine Grosbeak by Yan Zhang

Location: Pickering, Ontario, Canada
Driving the Shot: Pine Grosbeaks are a magnificent winter chicken, but they are reasonably unheard of in Southern Ontario, as they breed in Northern Canada and the western higher mountain places across North The united states. This graphic was taken for the duration of an “irruption calendar year,” when Pine Grosbeaks fly south in research of food. Photographing this female was seriously complicated since the birds were being shy and so active having the berries on the trees. Fortuitously, soon after traveling away, they came again inside an hour, and I captured this picture using a 600mm lens to preserve my distance.
Feminine ID Tip: Woman Pine Grosbeak can be determined by their gray and yellow feathers males are pinkish pink.

Gambel’s Quail by Jen Shepherd

Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
Behind the Shot: In January, my two daughters and I expended a 7 days in gorgeous Scottsdale for our winter vacation. Back in the 1990s l lived in the desert and cherished every single moment. As a lifelong photographer, I hoped to get some wildlife images on this trip and packed my Sony Alpha 7 IV with a 200-600mm lens. Right before sunrise, I made the decision to hike up a small ridge to see what animals may well be waking up. I noticed a group of birds skittering about but couldn’t recognize them mainly because it was still also darkish. Before long, even though, it was vivid ample for me to see that they have been Gambel’s Quail. This female paused near some rose petals, so I crouched down as reduced as I could and started photographing. I waited patiently until finally she turned her head marginally and then snapped the shutter. 1 second afterwards the group ambled away. 
Female ID Tip: The lighter brown feathers and shorter plume suggest a woman Gambel’s Quail males have black facial feathers and a substantially a lot more notable, curled plume.

Wood Duck by Tammy Kokjohn

Spot: Santee, California
Driving the Shot: Every single spring I return to 1 of my preferred neighborhood lakes to see the recently hatched Wooden Duck ducklings. One April early morning I promptly spotted a Wooden Duck hen with ducklings in the length. I uncovered a gentle patch of grass some length away to sit keeping a respectful distance is essential in allowing for adults and their ducklings to not sense threatened and for me to witness their genuine behavior. When I to start with spotted this relatives, they were being foraging along the shoreline, nibbling the freshly sprouted grasses. Quickly the hen herded her infants alongside one another and guided them up the slope to lay in the patch of grass for nap time. As they began to chill out, a single tiny duckling curled up near to the mom, and a 2nd hopped on her back, sharing what seemed to me like an expression of adore. These cute newborn ducklings melted my heart. 
ID Suggestion: Woman Wood Ducks appear like a significantly far more understated version of the male. They have the identical backswept crest and stately form, but where by the males are boldly plumed the ladies sport fragile beige and iridescent blue-purple. Ladies also sport a solid white eye ring. 

American Kestrel by Robert Kaplan

Place: Brooklyn, New York
Driving the Shot: Kestrels have always been a single of my favored birds to photograph—small, vibrant, and extremely photogenic. For the very last several several years there have been a person or two places all-around New York wherever kestrels reliably feed on voles and bugs. A person of individuals destinations is at Floyd Bennett Discipline in Brooklyn. The obstacle in capturing this shot was creating an educated guess to which of the out there perches the kestrel was likely to land on. I positioned myself with the sunshine at my back and tracked the flight of the hen as it approached a close by perch. When he flew off it and went to the floor in look for of foodstuff, I was geared up, capturing the bird’s return flight and the bug in its beak. I was gratified to see later that I had also captured, in my working experience, a special wing posture. In documenting this conduct, I hope the public will see the elegance and ferociousness in North America’s littlest falcon.
Woman ID Suggestion: Woman American Kestrels have a quantity of plumage variances from males, but the most obvious 1 in this picture is the dark barring along every single tail feather. Male American Kestrel tail feathers are completely purple with a black idea.

Bushtit by Ethan Cleveland

Locale: Denver, Colorado
At the rear of the Shot: Early a single morning I stepped out on my again deck to check out the small flock of Bushtits I saw patrolling my chicken feeder. I pulled out my Nikon D3200 and a 300mm F4 lens that my grandpa experienced lended me and started out getting some experimental photographs of the birds. I was making the most of figuring out the distinctive eyes of the males and the girls when I found 1 specific yellow-eyed female edging confidently together a twig toward exactly where I was crouching, intent on the fowl feeder. I raised my digital camera, thoroughly placed my concentration position on the bird’s eye, modified my shutter speed to 1/1000 of a second, and was blessed plenty of to realize this sharp impression!
Female ID Suggestion: Woman Bushtits are quick to determine once you know what to seem for: In contrast to males and juveniles, which have dark brown irises, feminine Bushtits have mild yellowish-olive eyes.

Black-throated Blue Warbler by ML Strahlendorff

Site: Metuchen, New Jersey
Behind the Shot: About 10 years in the past I begun turning what had been a standard suburban garden into a chemical-free of charge habitat yard loaded with native plants and birdbaths. One of my excellent rewards has been the visits by migratory birds who prevent to glean bugs, take in seeds and berries, drink, and bathe. One particular of the most common places in the garden is this bubbler fountain manufactured from rocks salvaged from a community excavation work. The massive rock that serves as the platform has a organic, shallow depression just deep ample for small birds to securely splash. I had been looking at the Black-and-white Warbler in the front when I noticed the Black-throated Blue female peering out from behind the leading rock, intently eying the Black-and-white and the spot it was enjoying. 
Feminine ID Idea: Feminine Black-throated Blue Warblers glance rather different from their male counterparts, but both of those sexes share a person discipline mark that allows you know what species you are looking at: a tiny white patch on just about every wing. No other North American warbler has this helpful plumage detail.

Yellow Warbler by Heather Shopping mall

Site: Richard Bong Condition Recreation Spot, Wisconsin
Behind the Shot: We frequented Richard Bong Point out Recreation Place in hopes of photographing Yellow-headed Blackbirds. When driving by, there ended up a number of birds we had been listening to, but few we ended up looking at. It appeared like it was going to start raining, so we parked our car or truck at a person of the stops and listened to the attractive bird phone calls. I was searching out the vehicle window with my digital camera when I observed movement in the bushes in entrance of me. A female Yellow Warbler popped up and started foraging by means of the boughs. I was in awe of her gorgeous plumage in opposition to the greenery and begun getting shots. On the lookout again at my pictures, I noticed this 1. It is really a person of my favored visuals that I’ve ever taken, and for me, it can be a reminder that some thing smaller can impact your existence in a major, attractive way.
Female ID Idea: Woman Yellow Warblers are vivid pure yellow and absence the reddish upper body streaks often found on male Yellow Warblers.

 Eastern Bluebird by Yan Zhang

Spot: Pickering, Ontario, Canada
Driving the Shot: Following a day of freezing rain and a sudden drop in temperature, the trees and crops were totally coated in ice. Almost everything was frozen! For me, photography is about much more than obtaining attractive photographs I desire to understand about hen behavior and doc it by means of my lens. So I went to see how the birds survived these a extreme improve in temperature. Luckily, I identified this female Eastern Bluebird perched on the branch of a fruit tree.
Female ID Idea: Jap Bluebird ladies like this one particular are usually lighter in shade than their equally marked male counterparts.

Crimson-necked Phalarope by Mike Diersing

Site: Nome, Alaska
Behind the Shot: Sitting down at the edge of a pond in chest waders, I was searching to photograph grebes. Towards the center of the pond, just past some grasses, I observed a cluster of Crimson-necked Phalaropes foraging in their distinct zig-zag pattern. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I recognized a lone woman phalarope in gorgeous total breeding plumage producing a beeline toward the team. Considering I was in all probability too late, I managed to obtain concentrate and get a sharp shot of her banking in a ventral pose, calling to announce, “Hey folks, I’m 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 arrived about the major of my waders! 
Woman ID Idea: Like the Belted Kingfisher, phalaropes are the exceptional North American species wherever the ladies are extra vibrant than the males. In this case, the vivid red neck and dark facial feathers indicate that this bird is feminine.

Spruce Grouse by Mark Staples

Place: Outstanding National Forest, Minnesota
At the rear of the Shot: Though on a July hike in Exceptional National Forest, I recognized various youthful Spruce Grouse chicks experienced all of a sudden appeared among the the undergrowth, calmly foraging together the hiking trail. They seemed absolutely unaffected by my accidental intrusion and continued to wander in all instructions in lookup of food. As I achieved for my camera, the mom hopped on to a nearby log to get a nearer seem at me. Prior to she returned to her brood, I was able to make an intimate portrait of the hen and her intricate feather sample towards a vivid inexperienced backdrop. As the two a birder and a conservationist, it was an extraordinary practical experience to enjoy this resident of the coniferous forest thrive in a guarded habitat.
Woman ID Suggestion: Woman Spruce Grouse are all round speckled brown, while males’ heads and necks are mainly black.

Laysan Albatross by Hob Osterlund

Spot: Kīlauea, Kaua’i, Hawaii
At the rear of 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 each other, and so can mated pairs who come about to be taking the 12 months off from nesting. These two women, a acknowledged mated pair that skipped the breeding period, achieved up at the edge of a industry in a colony where by they commonly nest, absent from the other birds, for a session of preening, snuggling, and napping. These displays are popular amongst mōlī, as they are identified in the Hawaiian language. Because it was a late winter afternoon, the sun’s very long rays set a highlight on their bodies but held the woods and the ravine powering them dim. I sat on the floor about 50 ft absent and took a series of shots. The birds appeared oblivious to me. 
Woman ID Suggestion: Laysan Albatross males and women have really very similar plumage, but males can be up to 25 percent extra huge than girls. Feminine-feminine pairs can be recognized by the existence of two eggs in a one nest. 

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