1. Best Portrait Sponsored by Country Innovation

An image that best captures the beauty of the subject bird and its distinctive features. We are looking for images taken in good light to include lots of detail, captured in a classic pose with particular attention paid to the setting and background. Please note that the category title does not relate to the orientation of the image.

Preparation Tip

Images should be capable of printing at a minimum of A4 at 300dpi. Please refer to our submission guidelines for information on how to prepare your images.

2. Birds in the Environment

We are looking for a picture that best demonstrates the relationship between a bird and the environment in which it is found. Examples of this type of image could range from a Mute Swan on a tranquil lake at dawn, a Dipper perched on a rock by a waterfall, or a Tawny Owl roosting in deciduous woodland.

Preparation Tip

Please keep any digital manipulation to a minimum. Major alterations in photoshop and other digital manipulation software may render your entry invalid. Images in all categories (with the exception of Creative Imagery) should be the result of a single frame. Please see our submission guidelines for further information.

3. Attention to Detail

This category focuses on the smaller details and could range from a close-up head shot to a macro image showing feather detail, a bird's eye or the talons of a raptor. The only limit is your ability to get close! The judges will be looking for a well-composed image that makes the most of those intimate details that we do not necessarily get to witness every day.

Preparation Tip

Noise reduction software and sharpening should be used sparingly as over-use will degrade your image and may result in rejection during the judging process.

4. Bird Behaviour

Here the judges will be looking for an image that best depicts the unique aspects of bird behaviour and that evokes an emotional response. The manic display of lekking Black Grouse, the courtship ritual of Great Crested Grebes, the humble singing Robin or the sight of a large Starling murmuration are all good examples of possible subjects for this category.

Preparation Tip

Images should be captured using a camera of at least 6mp.

5. Birds in Flight

Advances in digital technology have revolutionised flight photography and this category celebrates avian mastery of the sky. Knowledge and control of the camera settings to freeze the action or introduce motion blur are the types of technique that the judges will be looking for to convey drama and emotion.

Preparation Tip

Remember that images in all categories, with the exception of 'Creative Imagery', must be the result of a single frame and be subject to minimal digital manipulation. See our image preparation guidelines for further information.

6. Garden Birds

This category seeks to capture the joy that millions of people derive from the birds that visit their gardens. The judges are looking for images that celebrate this relationship and show a degree of creativity and uniqueness. Only images taken within the garden environment are eligible for this category.

Preparation Tip

Images should be saved as jpegs in sRGB colour space, 300dpi and at the highest quality available

7. Creative Imagery Sponsored by Digital Photographer Magazine

In this category we discard all the rules regarding digital manipulation and instead actively encourage you to use your skills and imagination to create images utilising the full potential of today's modern digital darkroom techniques. Montages from multiple frames, the removal of unsightly items, the wholesale replacement of backgrounds, and HDR stitches are all examples of the types of imagery that this category seeks to promote.

Let your imagination run wild, use the technology to your advantage and create something that takes our breath away.

8. Best Digiscoped Image Sponsored by Swarovski Optik

With the dramatic improvement in quality of mobile phone cameras, compact cameras and other digital devices, some stunning images are being captured through telescopes and binoculars. Known as 'digiscoping' by those that employ the technique, we have been so amazed by the quality of some of these pictures that, along with our sponsors Swarovski Optik, we have dedicated a special award to the skill.

Any image taken with a digital device attached to a telescope or binoculars is eligible. Please see our submission guidelines for further information.

Special Awards

1. Best Portfolio

As well as the main title of Bird Photographer of the Year awarded to the best overall individual image, a prize of £2,000 will be awarded to the best overall portfolio of 6 images. This will comprise a collection of the best individual photographs from a single photographer, as scored through our judging system, showing consistency of skill and talent.

2. Cameron Bespolka Young Bird Photographer of the Year

Entrants who are under 18 years of age on the closing date of the competition will automatically be entered into the Young Bird Photographer of the Year as well as the main competition. The best individual image as chosen by our panel of judges will be awarded the aforementioned title.