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Burrowing Owl Photo Contest now accepting entries

By CJ HADDAD - | Apr 18, 2024

Burrowing owls are the city of Cape Coral’s official bird and a favorite for photographers. The Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife wants your best shot and is now accepting entries for its fourth annual Burrowing Owl Photo Contest. FILE

Enjoy capturing photos of wildlife or can’t get enough of the city’s official bird? The Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife is now accepting entries for its fourth annual Burrowing Owl Photo Contest.

The non-profit organization committed to protecting the city’s wildlife is looking for the best the public has to offer when it comes to pictures of the city’s official bird.

The photo contest submissions need to be in by May 10, and the grand prize winner will have their photo used on CCFW’s 2025 official Burrowing Owl Festival T-shirt.

“We know a lot of photographers are also wildlife lovers, so this photo contest provides a forum for photographers to share their favorite pictures of burrowing owls, and to share the love of nature,” said CCFW spokesperson Janet Windisch. “It’s a great opportunity for both photographers and the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife.”

There are two division categories for the contest: amateur youth (7 to 17) and amateur adult. No professional photographer can enter the contest.

Participants may submit just one photo, and are permitted to the following: crop; make minor adjustments to color, white balance, lighting levels and curves, shadows and highlight, saturation, contrast, sharpness; moderate dodging and burning; removal of dust sports and moderate reduction of image noise.

Photographs that have been digitally or otherwise altered beyond standard optimization will be disqualified.

Last year, CCFW received more than 100 submissions, and always looks forward to seeing the different ways the city’s favorite bird is captured.

“It’s amazing to see the great poses, and the interesting thing is being able to see behavior that you don’t even think about,” Windisch said. “The way they spread their wings — sometimes they groom each other. Sometimes you’ll see a family of chicks all lined up. It’s really interesting to see.”

Judging will be conducted by a CCFW-appointed panel that includes expert photographers. Judges will score eligible photographs on technical quality (30%), originality (30%), and artistic merit (40%).

A final group of pictures will be passed along to the final judges who are Cape Coral Mayor John Gunter, NBC2 Meteorologist Rob Duns, and last year’s photo contest winner, Dr. Christopher Robbin.

There will be first, second, and third place prizes given to the highest-scoring photograph from the adult division and youth division. No entrant may win more than one prize. Prizes include CCFW swag and a one-year membership to the group.

“Our youth category is a great opportunity for youngsters to share their photos and get outside and enjoy nature,” Windisch said. “Last year’s youth winner took a picture of two little owls peeking out of their burrow. Which was so cute, and really appropriate for Ground Owl Day (the city’s take on Groundhog Day).”

CCFW encourages every photographer to practice responsible bird photography. Prior to submitting any photograph, participants are strongly encouraged to read Audubon’s Guide to Ethical Bird Photography and Videography. A photograph that appears to the sponsor or judges to reflect a harmful situation is not eligible for submission, and if submitted, will be disqualified at CCFW’s sole discretion.

Winners will be announced by ABC7 Weekend Morning Meteorologist Jesslyn Ferentz at the Burrowing Owl Census on May 18, at noon at Rotary Park, and on the CCFW website.

For full contest rules, prize details, more information on CCFW, to enter the photo contest and see current entries, visit ccfriendsofwildlife.org.

Those interested in taking part in the Burrowing Owl Census can contact Honey Phillips at Rotary Park by calling 239-549-4606.