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Editor's Note

Welcome to the first annual Audubon Magazine Photography Awards, “Birds in Focus.” Almost 2,500 entrants submitted more than 16,000 images to our contest, which we ran in association with Nature’s Best Photography magazine. Many of the images prompted our panel of judges—design director Kevin Fisher, photo editor Kim Hubbard, designer Todd Standley, and Nature’s Best publisher and editor-in-chief Steve Freligh—to take turns exclaiming, “Wow! Did you see this one?” The action shots and poses were truly breathtaking.

After many long nights that turned into longer weekends, our bleary-eyed judges, joined in the final round by Joel Sartore, the renowned wildlife photographer and frequent Audubon contributor, finally finished plowing through all of the photos. Besides the five prize winners, this issue presents 14 honorable mention photos in our Editors’ Choice section. Our Top 100 images can be seen online at, where our art team will also blog about some of their personal favorites. “We figured the photos would be good, but not this good,” Kevin says. Chalk it up to the photographers’ state-of-the-art equipment, their good fortune at being in the right place at the right time, or Audubon’s reputation for great nature photography. I believe the excellence speaks to the photographers’ profound passion for birds, whose beauty and majesty is unmatched by any other creatures on earth.

We headlined our awards feature “The Big Picture” for important reasons beyond the outsized images. Kenn Kaufman, Audubon field editor and one of the country’s top birders, puts it well in his rousing introduction: “These pages showcase bird photography at its very best, inspiring us to go out and see the birds for ourselves, and to support efforts to ensure that future generations will have the same opportunity, too. Science can give us the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of bird conservation, but such artistry gives us a resounding series of answers to the question ‘why.’ ” 

In this issue, we launch two new departments. Under the able hands of senior editor Alisa Opar and assistant editor Michele Wilson, Audubon in Action will present the latest news from the National Audubon Society, from summer camps to phone apps, in a tidy, one-page digest that complements other Audubon stories in the magazine. Senior editor Julie Leibach will be overseeing Audubon Family. A paper in the journal Children, Youth and Environments explains how more research is showing that adults who work to protect the environment or educate others about it can usually trace their interest to two influences: spending time as a child in special outdoor places, and having family role models who showed an appreciation of the natural world. “Audubon Family offers creative and practical ideas for discovering, enjoying, and valuing the wild lands around us,” says Julie.

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