Photo taken at Huntley Meadows wins Audubon Society award

Kathrin Swoboda took this image in March 2019 at Huntley Meadows Park.

If you’ve spent some time at Huntley Meadows, you’ve likely seen many red-winged blackbirds, who are attracted to the park’s marsh and brushy areas.

But chances are you’ve never seen a red-winged blackbird quite the way Kathrin Swoboda photographed one this spring at Huntley Meadows. The picture, which captures vapors coming from the singing bird on a cold March morning, won Swoboda the grand prize in this year’s 2019 Audubon Photography Awards.

Swoboda, a Vienna resident, told the Audubon Society that she had been shooting the red-winged blackbirds for a few years to trying to get a good shot of the “smoke rings” that come out of their mouths while singing on cold days.

“This particular bird was very vociferous, singing long and hard,” Swoboda told the Audubon Society. “I looked to set it against the dark background of the forest, shooting to the east as the sun rose over the trees, backlighting the vapor.”

Image of Kathrin Swoboda holding camera
Kathrin Swoboda

Photographers have long been drawn to Huntley Meadows for its abundance of birds and other wildlife, with many posting their best images to a group page on Facebook. Swoboda said she’s been coming to Huntley Meadows since she first went to the park as part of a photography class in 2012.

“I have always been particularly drawn to the red-wing blackbirds there,” Swoboda told Covering The Corridor in an email.

Swoboda was one of 2,253 amateur and professional photographers who submitted entries to the Audubon Society contest, which is now in its 10th year. Entrants hailed from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada.

Swoboda’s photo is on the cover of the summer 2019 edition of Audubon Magazine, and has been featured in People magazine, Smithsonian Magazine and Gizmodo.

More of Swoboda’s photography can be seen on her website, and all of the 2019 Audubon Society winners can be seen on