3-5 March 2017 Houston, Minnesota USA

HomePhoto Sessions & Photo Contest

Owl Photography Contest

 2016 First Place Short-eared Owl by Jeff Grotte

First Place 2016, Short-eared Owl by Jeff Grotte.

See the top 10 photos from the 2016 contest!

 There is one category for this photo contest, Owls!


The contest is open to AMATEUR photographers only. Photographers who profit from their photography (other than photo contests, even if they only sell a few photos) or are sponsored by a company are not permitted to enter. Entry fees will not be returned if someone who is not an amateur enters, even though the photos will be disqualified.

Photos of wild owls, educational owls, nest box owls, and other owls are welcome. Judges will give extra points for wild owls in natural habitats. Photos from the outdoor owl photography sessions at previous Festival of Owls events are permitted. Photos must not have watermarks or distinguishing marks or names on them so the judges can evaluate them fairly.

The owls in the images must not have been baited or lured for the photograph by the photographer or anyone else. If we learn that a submitted photo was obtained by baiting or luring an owl in some way, the photographer will be banned from this competition for life. Don't risk it.


Judges will choose 10 finalist photos. Finalists are made into 8x10” prints, matted, and displayed at the International Owl Center during the International Festival of Owls, March 4-6, 2016. At the festival, the public will vote from the top 10 finalists to determine the winners.


First prize: US$100, 2nd prize: US$25, 3rd prize: US$15. Please note that bank or PayPal transfer fees will be deducted from the cash award if the money is transferred to a foreign bank account.

Submission guidelines

The entry fee is US$5 per photo, with a limit of three entries per person. Entries and payment must be received by February 1, 2016 at 11:59 PM CDT. Each entry should be sent as a separate email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and should be at least 300 dpi at 8"x10", (that is about a 2.4MB file minimum).  Include your name, address, phone number, email address, and photo title in the body of the email. Only digital images may be entered.

Submit your photo (one photo per email) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

With each photo email, please include:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • The title of your photo
  • Anticipated method of payment: (Paypal, Festival registration form, or check in the mail)


Submit your payment via the PayPal button below or make a check payable and mail to:

International Owl Center
PO Box 536
Houston, MN 55943

How many entries?

You may request sponsorship of your entry if you cannot afford the US$5 per photo entry fee. A pool of donations will be used to cover one entry per person, and as long as there is money in the pool, additional sponsored entries will be allowed. Cash awards for sponsored photos will go entirely to the photographer, not the sponsor. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request sponsorship of your entry and include a brief description of  your need for sponsorship (such as living in a country with low income, very unfavorable currency conversion to US dollars, etc.)

Use of entries

By entering this contest you are granting the International Owl Center non-exclusive rights to the submitted photos for educational, informational and promotional purposes. You also agree to release the International Owl Center from any and all claims related to the display of, or use of,  your submitted photographs.

EMAIL ENTRIES TO: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Outdoor Owl Photography Sessions

behind the scenes


In 2016 the Outdoor Owl Photography Sessions will be held at a time other than the International Festival of Owls.  Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you'd like to be added to the list of people we notify when the next outdoor photo session is scheduled.  We will follow a format similar to previous years, as described below.

The birds used are all captives and some have permanent injuries, but they often can be positioned so their disabilities and leather jesses are not visible.

The specific birds used depend on health and training of the birds as well as weather conditions. The owls used in 2013 were Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl, Barred Owl, and Short-eared Owl.

Please note that there is no guarantee as to which species will attend the photo shoot, as the well-being of the birds is of the highest importance.

Photographers can choose from 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM or 11:00 AM time slots, and must arrive in time to be ready to begin shooting sharply on time. There will be three photographers per bird, with each group of three photographers rotating to a new owl every 10 minutes.

Proceeds from this session benefit the International Owl Center.

Check out a few photos from the 2009 session taken by Alan Stankevitz here.

Cost has been $75/photographer and included a brunch. Pre-registration is required.  Check back for dates for 2016.  Photographers who have previously participated will be notified by email.

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