‘A Butterfly Snatch’ © Greg Norman, Winner of the Bird Behaviour Category 2019. Rainbow Bee-eater, Wyndham, Western Australia

“This shot was taken on a day where I was concentrating solely on bee-eaters in flight and feeding. They would perch in bushes along the bank of a dam then fly out over the water to catch an insect, which was usually a dragonfly; however, every once in a while, they would follow the base of the dam bank and grab a moth or butterfly.

“I could easily see where the bird flew back to with its catch, then I could just walk to that bush quietly to get the bird eating. The bee-eaters always throw their food up for a repositioning, and this is where I captured a burst of frames. I gained about four different series of this butterfly being thrown up, and each time, it was smaller and more tattered. Bee-eaters are such fun subjects.”

“Declines in bird numbers are often an early indication of wider environmental problems,” the team at BirdLife Australia, Australia’s largest independent, not-for-profit organization devoted to bird conservation, writes.

Birds are essential members of our ecosystem; they control pests, and they pollinate crops. Unfortunately, even species seen as common are in decline. In places around the world, bird populations have suffered due to insecticide use and habitat loss, among other threats. Over the course of 50 years, North America lost 3 billion birds, and the numbers warn of a potential collapse in environmental health.

In Australia, BirdLife works to protect delicate native species from extinction, a danger that’s been intensified by recent bushfires. Their special interest group BirdLife Photography plays an important part in raising awareness and championing the cause through powerful images. The annual BirdLife Australia Photography Awards is a celebration of the country’s extraordinary, diverse wildlife–and a call to action that must be heeded around the world.

The 2020 BirdLife Australia Photography Awards are open for entries through Monday, August 3rd. This year, there are nine main categories: bird portrait, bird in flight; bird behaviour; backyard birds; human impact; birds in the landscape; fairy-wrens, emu-wrens & grasswrens; plus a youth and portfolio award. The category winners will receive a $1,000 cash prize, and the portfolio winner will take home $5,000 cash.

During this difficult time for bird populations in Australia and beyond, photography can serve as an enduring reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world. As these awards remind us year after year, the health and well-being of bird populations has far-reaching implications for us all. When they suffer, we suffer, but when they thrive, we do too.

The BirdLife Australia Photography Awards are sponsored by Nikon Australia and Lake Cowal Foundation. Enter here.

‘Southern Cassowary’ © Jun Matsui, Winner of the Bird Portrait Category 2019. Kuranda, Queensland.

“A beautiful living dinosaur looks me in the eye.”