Conditions of Entry

Checklist for a successful entry

Following the best practices listed below will make sure that your images meet the conditions of entry.


Participants can enter the competition via photo.vogelwarte.ch. Pictures must be submitted online using a personal account.

The Ornithological Institute’s 2023 photo competition is open to European residents. Amateur enthusiasts will have the chance to compete with professional photographers. Employees of the Swiss Ornithological Institute in Sempach, Canon Switzerland and other sponsors are excluded from the competition.



  • We only accept images from digital cameras.
  • Photos must be submitted online via photo.vogelwarte.ch.
  • Entrants can upload a maximum of 10 photos per category.
  • Each image may be entered only once in any vogelwarte contest.
  • The original image may be cropped. The resulting image file must be at least 4000 pixels on the longest side, or at least 3000 pixels if it is a square image. This is without recalculating the data.
  • Minimum size for preview images: at least 1400 pixels on the longest side
  • The aspect ratio may not deviate from the usual 3:2, 4:3, 1:1 or 16:9 formats.
  • File format for preview images: Files must be submitted as JPEGs, saved at the highest quality setting and Adobe RGB or sRGB colour space.
  • Photos of birds in captivity (pets, farm animals, zoo animals) are not permitted.
  • Images must feature species that occur as wild birds in Switzerland. The list of species at photo.vogelwarte.ch/en/list-of-bird-species/ is final.
  • Participants pledge to adhere to any applicable conservation laws for the respective areas and the animals living in them. The protection of birds and their habitats has absolute priority. Special care must be taken not to disturb breeding or feeding birds. The directions given on the fact sheet «Responsible Bird Photography» are part of the conditions of entry. Photos taken with obvious disregard of these rules will be disqualified. The Swiss Ornithological Institute reserves the right to exclude fallible photographers from the competition.
  • The IPTC data (in Adobe Photoshop: File – File Information) must contain the full contact details of the photographer.
  • The files must be marked with a category number (K1, K2 or K3) and labelled as follows:    categorynumber_lastname_firstname_species_country in which the picture was taken    Example: K1_Smith_John_Housesparrow_Switzerland
  • For proof of authenticity, we request the processed data in full resolution as well as the unprocessed original files of all images preselected by the expert panel. For these images, we also request a short paragraph detailing the shooting conditions.
  • If the requested data is not provided on time, the photo in question will be disqualified.

Digital Processing

  • Adding and removing elements from the picture and the use of colour filters or artistic filters is not permitted.
  • HDR photography, panoramic photos, focus stacking, multiple exposure and photomontage are not permitted.
  • Adjustments of tonal value, contrast, sharpness, colour temperature, white balance and colour balance as well as removal of image noise and dust spotting are permitted as long as they do not alter the overall message of the image.
  • Black and white conversion is permitted.

Intellectual Property Rights and Rights of Use

The photographer must hold the intellectual property rights of the submitted images. By entering the competition, participants confirm that they are the sole author of the images and that there is no third-party copyright infringement. Participants are liable for any damages incurred through copyright infringement or the failure to obtain rights of use.

The award-winning images and the images of the preselection may be used free of charge by the Swiss Ornithological Institute in Sempach for any activity related to the Institute’s photo competitions. In particular, these rights include the publication of the photos on the Internet, in print publications, exhibitions, media coverage of the competition as well as promotional activities. The Swiss Ornithological Institute may transfer these rights of use to third parties.


Final Provision

Photos that do not meet the conditions of entry will be excluded. In case of doubt, the expert panel will make the final decision.

The contact information of the photographers whose pictures passed the preselection stage may be disclosed to Canon (Switzerland)
AG and to the category sponsors.

By entering the competition, participants acknowledge the conditions of entry without the possibility of recourse to legal action. Decisions made by the expert panel are incontestable. There will be no correspondence regarding the competition.


Responsible Bird Photography

Showing consideration for nature and birds

Due to digitalisation in the field of photography, bird photography is experiencing a revival, increasing the number of outstanding photographs of birds. However, the most attractive photograph is of no value if it has been taken at the cost of a bird or its habitat.
Considering a few simple rules of conduct, we take care of and support the concerns of animal and habitat conservation.
Thank you very much for your understanding and consideration for nature and birds!

Code of Conduct

When photographing birds, their welfare and the conservation of their habitats, including other animal and plant species living within them, have absolute priority.

Species Conservation

  • Minimize disturbances to birds. Please keep your distance, and bear in mind that birds react negatively to disturbances long before they take flight.
  • Birds at or near a nest are particularly prone to disturbances and in extreme cases may even abandon their young. Therefore, it is particularly important not to disturb birds that are breeding or feeding at a nest. If birds sound alarm calls or show signs of agitation, you are probably too close to a nest or the young.
  • Do not disturb birds by mimicking calls or song. Imitating the presence of a rival or a source of danger causes unnecessary stress to birds, especially during breeding season. Avoid making noise.
  • Do not use flash when photographing birds to avoid startling them.
  • Disturbances are especially serious in winter, when it is vital for birds to conserve energy. Causing birds to take flight depletes their energy reserves and should be avoided at all costs.
  • Do not use drones for photography.
  • Always adhere to legal requirements for the conservation of species.
  • Many nature reserves have public hides from which you can photograph birds in their natural environment without disturbing them.
  • When feeding birds in winter, make sure that the food is appropriate for the species, that the offered food cannot be soiled by droppings or get wet. If dead birds are found near the feeding site, feeding must be stopped immediately. After thorough cleaning, feeding should only be resumed within 2–3 days.
  • If you have a birdbath, remember to keep it clean. Clean the birdbath and renew the water regularly.

Conservation of the Area

  • Always adhere to legal requirements for the conservation of habitats and especially to the rules of nature reserves.
  • Pay attention to no driving signs and do not obstruct paths with your vehicle.
  • Respect the rights of landowners by using public roads, paths and trails.
  • If you pitch a camouflage tent, ask the landowner for permission. Follow the code of conduct.

Role Model

  • Respect the rights of others performing their activities and work in nature.
  • When travelling or on holiday, behave just as respectfully towards nature as you would do at home.
  • Be an example to others with your responsible behaviour. Please politely point out to others their possible misbehaviour.