Photographer wasn't stumped by camouflaged owl family

Cast your vote for the best of the 16 Woods and Wildlife finalists. Enter your photos in the Four-Season Fun contest!

The Detroit News

From a distance, it’s just a decaying tree stump in various shades of brown.

But John Fortener of Allen Park had his eyes peeled for a Great Horned Owl at Island Park in Ann Arbor.  And there it was, inside the stump.

"Great Horned Owl and Chicks in Nest," by John Fortener of Allen Park, shot at Island Park in Ann Arbor.

“As I began to take a photo of this bird, to my surprise, two owlets popped up,” he said. “This particular day is one I will not soon forget.”

Fortener’s “Great Horned Owl and Chicks in Nest” is among the last four finalists in The Detroit News’ Celebrate Michigan Photo Contest under the Woods and Wildlife theme.  With 1,893 photos entered, the Detroit News judges had a difficult time making the final choices.  At least two dozen more were under serious consideration.   

Ultimately, these three photos completed the pool of 16 that will become eligible for two $300 prizes:

  •    “Boys Gathering,” by James Timmer of Troy. “The young bucks were trying out their ability against some veterans” in a field in Troy, he said. “It was special to see the fun they were having.”
  •    “Keyhole,” by Cameron Wilcox of Marquette.  Wilcox shot this woods scene in Bewabic State Park this spring, wanting to “catch those early leaves before they could really unfurl so they were a nice light green color. That area has a lot of nice hardwood forests, so it looks like a storybook. I found that old stump with a hole in it and the sun lined up just right for a photo.”
  •     “Pure Northern Michigan,” by Sasha Woodruff of Roscommon.  During a walk in her hometown’s woods this summer, she spied a charming sight: “Four sweet baby raccoons!”

Vote for your favorite

Two of the 16 finalists will receive $300 prizes.  One winner will be chosen by The Detroit News photo staff. The other will be determined by an online public vote Wednesday through Sunday, July 28.  Go to https://apps.detroitnews.com/vote to cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award.

Both winners will be announced next Wednesday, July 31.

Enter the final contest theme

The Celebrate Michigan Photo Contest is accepting entries until noon August 16 for the final theme of the summer, Four-Season Fun.  Share your photos of favorite activities and beautiful scenes from any of Michigan's four seasons at https://apps.detroitnews.com/submitphotos

The contest is open to non-professional photographers age 18 and older. Go to https://detroitnews.com/celebrate-michigan to read the official rules and find weekly stories, plus a growing photo gallery of the finalists and winners selected to date.