Digital Photo Contest

The Contest is on HIATUS until 2020.

Entry Fee: $5 to benefit Hawk Mountain education programs

About the Contest:
Capture the beauty of the world-famous Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. The Hawk Mountain Digital Photo Competition is designed to encourage people to discover Sanctuary trails, scenic overlooks and programs through the practice of nature photography. We hope to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the great outdoors and the Hawk Mountain mission of protecting birds of prey worldwide. The unique digital format allows  photographers to participate easily. This contest also serves as a modest fundraiser for Hawk Mountain: Photographers get the image of a lifetime while contributing to conservation for all time.

You are encouraged to enter photographs taken during the contest year. We hope  photography brings you to the Mountain multiple times, so please consider a membership. Hawk Mountain Members always receive free trail admission!

Scroll down for categories and guidelines. Thank you for your participation! 

2018 Photo Contest Winners

Turkey Vulture by John Mercer, Staff Pick

The 2018 Digital Photo Contest has come to a close!

An amazing selection of nature and wildlife photos were entered into the 4th Annual Hawk Mountain Digital Photo Contest, definitely making it tough to choose the winners. Photos were judged on composition, lighting, subject, and creativity.

All winning photos, second-place winners, and honorable mentions will be displayed in a winter exhibit that will open in January. The 2019 contest will reopen for submissions in February.

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all participants for your support!

Click here to view the 2018 Winners!


On top of the world by Jeff Loomis

1. Scenic Views and Wild Landscapes
Capture the views and scenery of the Sanctuary, from your personal favorite spot to the large vistas at the primary overlooks. Share an interesting view of the forest landscape, or a different angle we normally don’t see: a fog filled forest, a snow-covered view, the spring green-up or a summer rain.  

2.  Wild Avians
Share your best photo of wild raptors or other birds seen at Hawk Mountain. In flight or perched, the avians of the Sanctuary are challenging subjects for photographers. Captive birds are not eligable for this category.

3. Native Wild Flora
Submit a photo of native and wild-growing plants, fungi or trees. Flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds are accepted. 

4. Native Wild Fauna
Includes butterflies, insects, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Please do not enter birds in this category.

5. Macro Photography
Get up close and photograph the wonders of the Sanctuary in the detail.

Contest Rules

Class not in session by Kenneth Bendetti

Entry Period and Fees
Closing date for 2019 TBA. 

Fee: $5 per photo
Enter as many categories as you like but only up to 2 photos per category. Edit your work and submit only your very best photos using the online submission form. Photos must be sized to print as an 8 x 10.

Why a fee?
Operated as non-profit organization, this event joins a rich history of fundraising at Hawk Mountain. Like most photography competitions, it has expenses associated with set-up, storage and review. Once we off-set start-up costs, all dollars raised directly support Hawk Mountain science and education programs. Your entry fee is a tax deductible gift, less any prizes. We all benefit.


  1. Photos must be taken at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
  2. Photos must be submitted online; no print photos will be accepted. Size photos for 8x10 printing.
  3. Photo cannot be entered into more than one category.
  4. No personal information, signatures, frames, or text of any kind are permitted on the image.
  5. Photographers should respect staff, trainees, volunteers, visitors, and the wild flora and fauna of the Sanctuary. Do not harass, disrupt, or harm the Sanctuary or it's visitors and staff in any way for the sake of a photograph.
  6. Limit editing to basic contrast, sharpening, and cropping. Intense post processing such as HDR, multiple exposures, and art filters, are not appropriate at this time. This includes images taken with "in camera" processing such as HDR, grainy, and pin hole, etc. Please do not submit overly processed photos.
  7. Photos that infringe upon another’s copyright are not eligible and will be disqualified.
  8. You are strongly encouraged to submit photos taken during the contest year.
  9. Entries that violate the rules will be disqualified without refund.


Bug by Rick Bortnick

  • The judges are photography professionals from a variety of locations. They will select a winner and runner up for each category. Honorable Mentions will be given to deserving photographs.
  • The winner for each category will receive $50 and runner up will receive $25.
  • There will be a Staff Pick chosen by Sanctuary's professional staff.
  • Award-winning photos and Staff Pick will be printed and displayed in an exhibit in the Wings of Wonder Gallery at Hawk Mountain for six months to one year. Photos may be cropped to fit standard 8x10 framing.
  • As part of the awards package, selected photos will be published in the upcoming Autumn Hawk Mountain News, the member-exclusive magazine of Hawk Mountain, and will be announced in a press release, on the Sanctuary Facebook page, and on its website.

Respect for Photography, Photographers, and Photographs

Photography is a time honored and unique art form. Only you can take your photograph. By entering a photo you allow Hawk Mountain Sanctuary to use your image to promote its mission and programs, but most importantly, to promote this contest. That promotion takes place in various print and on-line locations, such as the Hawk Mountain Facebook page, Hawk Mountain News, and right here on the contest page. Photographers ALWAYS retain all rights and proper credit line will be included when and if your photo is used. We appreciate the talents of the photographers who visit the Sanctuary.

AmazonSmile 3