For more than a century – 110 years to be exact – the National Audubon Society has worked to conserve natural ecosystems by bringing the world's birders together to form a "culture of conservation". From supporting scientific research, to establishing habitat restoration programs, to organising bird-centric field trips for students, Audubon members spend a lot of time in the field – and lucky for us, many of them bring their cameras along! 

Each year, the Audubon Photography Awards honour the crème de la crème of bird photography, and the society has graciously shared this year's winning entries with us. The nine beautiful photos you see here were chosen from an astounding 9,000 entries, submitted from all corners of North America. "When one receives this many photos of birds, odds are good that some interesting examples of bird behaviour will be captured," says Audubon. This year's lot certainly didn't disappoint.  

Grand prize winner: Great egret. Image: Melissa Groo/Audubon Photography Awards. 
Professional winner: Double-crested cormorant. Image: Chris Gug/Audubon Photography Awards. 

Professional honourable mention: Sandhill cranes. Image: Jason Savage/Audubon Photography Awards. 

Fine art winner: Laughing gull, double-crested cormorant & royal tern. 
Image: Constance Mier/Audubon Photography Awards.

Amateur honourable mention: American flamingos. Image: Steve Russell/Audubon Photography Awards. 

Fine Art honourable mention: Purple gallinules. Image: Mary Angela Luzader/Audubon Photography Awards.

Black Skimmers. Image: Tim Timmis/Audubon Photography Awards. Amateur honorable mention.

Amateur winner: Prothonotary warblers. Image: Donald Wuori/Audubon Photography Awards. 
Youth winner: Painted bunting. Image: Zachary Webster/Audubon Photography Awards. 

There's more where that came from! Browse the top 100 entries in the gallery here – including this Earth Touch staff favourite, "When Dinner Attacks", from photographer Patrick Tewey:

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Great blue heron. Image: Patrick Tewey/Audubon Photography Awards.

And if all this avian glory has you down on your own photography skills, fear not: Audubon has contests for bad photos too. Tweet your biggest fail using #worstbirdpic.