Caption Contest Winners

View the featured photos and top entries in National Wildlife’s monthly caption contests

12-14-2011 // NWF Staff

EVERY YEAR the editors of National Wildlife select unusual or funny images from our annual photography competition to feature in our monthly caption contests. We then invite readers to write captions for the photos. Here are the caption contest winners and runners-up, along with the images that inspired them.

December 2011

Polar bear in Churchill, Manitoba by Mark Thomas


"That last cup of eggnog was a mistake."
— Rachel Warren-Stauffer, Deerfield Beach, Florida



"Aspirin. I need aspirin. These office Christmas parties are killers!"
— Gina Baratono, Suring, Wisconsin

"Hand me a Coke and then I’ll smile."
— Jeri Hassell, Gainesville, Texas

"Geez, can someone turn that heat down?"
— Elaine J. Kelly, Brick, New Jersey

"Yes, officer, I can touch my nose with my eyes closed. Oh, you meant while standing up?"
— William Newman, Chicago, Illinois

"It's morning already? Just let me sleep a little bit longer!"
— Jennifer Phillips, Angola, Indiana

"Look―in the sky! It's a bird…it's a plane…no, it's Santa Claus!"
— Ray Swart, Georgetown, Kentucky

"Whew, I'm getting too old for this. Those darn seals are getting faster and faster every year."
— Linda Wild, Maryland Heights, Missouri


November 2011

Tree frog and green snake by Bob Griffin


"You know, I'm beginning to think we're adopted."
— Katelin Mathews, Margate, Florida



"Of all the holes in all the trees in all the forest, she hops into mine."
— Rob Goldberg, Fayetteville, New York

Mr. Frog hired the bodyguard after a close encounter with a chef.
— Will Newman, Chicago, Illinois

"I've had a frog in my throat but never on my head!"
— Sarina Shore, Mayfield, Kansas

"Baby, please don't go. We can work out our differences."
— Meera Sulaiman, Toronto, Ontario

"I think we're safe now; where's the nearest pond?"
— Brad Wakeman, Grafton, Ohio


October 2011

Two giraffes at a B&B in Kenya by Jim Zuckerman


"Are you sure this isn't considered breaking and entering?"
— Donna Naseef, West Chester, Pennsylvania



"Two longneck beers over here."
— Jason Dubas, Palatine, Illinois

"Whoa! Did you see the bearskin rug? We’re out of here!"
— Kate Lee, Somers Point, New Jersey

"The brochure said this place was animal friendly!"
— Sarah Madison, San Francisco, California

"I don't know, honey. I think we need something bigger."
— John Perry, Delran, New Jersey

Bring the great outdoors inside your home!
— Paula Sanson, Decherd, Tennessee

"It's nice enough, but it looked so much bigger when we booked online!"
— Heidi Smith, New York, New York


September 2011

Captive Howler Monkey by Sara Lopez


"Sorry, that word kinda slipped out."
— Rob Falconer, Lakeland, Florida



"Oops! Too loud. I hope I don't get into trouble!"
— Sharon Burgess, Lexington, Kentucky

Speak No Evil posed for pictures while Hear No Evil and See No Evil went for coffee.
— Doug Croft, San Jose, California

"How humiliating! They're all pointing at me because I burped."
— Susan Detwiler, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

"Oh, no, Tarzan fell off his tree again!"
— Charlotte Francis, Danville, Virginia

"I can't believe I ate all of it!"
— L’Tanya Segal, Chicago, Illinois

"Oh, man, this is the last time I have spicy buffalo wings for lunch!"
— Rita Simpson

"Oooooo, I'm telling Mom you said a bad word."
— Maria Tinoco, La Crescenta, California

— Elizabeth Turner, Charleston, West Virginia


August 2011

Chital deer by Amirtharaj Williams


"When I told the birds to make themselves at home, this is not really what I had in mind."
— Jenny Cromie, Clio, Michigan



"If I stand really still, no one will see me."
— Heather Clark, Pasadena, Maryland

"What am I gonna do when they lay the eggs?"
— Brent Cogswell, Columbia, Maryland

"She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!"
— Manuel David, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Separated at birth from the Donald.
— David Ege, Englewood, Florida

ATTENTION, BIRDS: Mobile home for rent. Off-road capabilities. Complete with his and her perches.
— Lisa Langell, Scottsdale, Arizona

"What!? The Royal Wedding is over?"
— Kathy Nielsen, Plaistow, New Hampshire

"What do you mean it's too late for an Easter bonnet?"
— Paula Pruessner, New Haven, Missouri

"I get better reception this way."
— Rita Simpson, St. Johns, Michigan


July 2011

Captive chimpanzee by Richard Fortune


"I'll never play with Superglue again."
— Bruce Squiers, Salem, New York



"Oh! These abs exercises are boring me! What if I change to yoga?"
— Laura Bover, Pearland, Texas

"Today I don't feel like doing anything!"
— Tina Cox, Jordan, New York

"...and this little piggy had a nap."
— George Goertzen, Toronto, Ontario

"This body just ain’t like it used to be. I know what you're thinking―I'm such a panzee!"
— Lisa Hardy, Granbury, Texas

This year's winner of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” shows what a right angle is.
— David Rogers, Waldorf, Maryland

"The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Don't worry― I'll hold it with my feet!"
— Sudhir Sharma, Stormville, New York


June 2011

Juvenile black iguana by Claudio Contreras


"Righty tighty, lefty loosey..."
— Patrick Butler, Dania Beach, Florida



Having reached the pinnacle, Billy wondered, "Is this all there is?"
— Doug Croft, San Jose, California

"Where's the twenty bucks you promised if I made it to the top?”
— Amy Friedman, Manlius, New York

"Well, I’m up here. Now what?”
— Jeri Martin, Blacksburg, Virginia

"Has that cat gone yet? I can't stay here much longer―my legs have a cramp.”
— Susan Mcknight, Belfast, Northern Ireland

"My whole life, I told my parents, ‘Iguana be an astronaut.’"
— Will Newman, Chicago, Illinois

"Great! Now how am I gonna get back down?”
— Rochelle Norelli, Belton, Texas

"Ha! Now I can ride like Harry Potter!"
— Mariah Stone, Caledonia, Minnesota


May 2011

Black-tailed prairie dogs by Fi Rust


"I do solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
— Doug Croft, San Jose, California



"We praise thee, O Sun!"
— Glenda DeBekker, Canon City, Colorado

Every morning, Pete and Dave do a series of yoga poses before their morning forage.
— Dawn DeClark, Rochester, Michigan

"Uh, waiter?… WAITER!!"
— Barbara Gallagher, Greencastle, Pennsylvania

Prairie Yoga―Join now! AM classes are for the dogs; PM classes are for night owls.
— Lisa Hardy, Granbury, Texas

"STOP in the name of love…."
— Alyssa Maki, Gainesville, Florida
— Leslie Rothermal, East Windsor, New Jersey

"Everybody was Kung Fu fighting...."
— Tina Schell, Kiawah, South Carolina

"Bye, E.T.! Don’t forget to phone."
— Rita Simpson, St. Johns, Michigan

The Cynomys sisters compete for the title of Synchronized Prairie Swimming.
— Tracy Szela, West St. Paul, Minnesota


April 2011

bear by Dick Forehand


"Half an inch taller than last month!"
— Kris Nylaan, Grand Rapids, Michigan



"Tweet all you like; I'm sticking with a land line."
— John Breckenridge, Apple Valley, California

"I hope this is what my yoga instructor meant when she said to stand in tree pose!"
— Jessica Houseman, Enola, Pennsylvania

Trying to stay fit with the newest craze to hit the forest ― Grizzly Pole Dance Routines.
— Alyssa Maki, Gainesville, Florida

"…98, 99, 100. Ready or not, here I come!"
— Ethel Thomas, Purcellville, Virginia

"That cloud looks just like a pic-a-nic basket!"
— Scott Thomas, Springfield, Ohio


March 2011

captive baboon by Don C. Johnson


"OK, so I got a little carried away with the blow dryer this morning."
— Kathy Bakken, Everett, Washington



"I read in Elle that teased hair is back in."
— Gay Burkhart, Zionsville, Indiana

"Let's ride that roller coaster again!"
— Will Newman, Chicago, Illinois

"Awww shucks, I always blush when you tell me that my hair looks pretty!"
— Stacy Reyes, Sacramento, California

"Hurry up and take the picture! I can't hold this pose forever!"
— Jill Shurden, Olive Branch, Mississippi


February 2011

poison dart frog by Jim Zuckerman


“Working hard on his finger-grip skills, Bart hopes to impress the ladies with this move.”
—Alyssa Maki, Gainesville, Florida



“This is a heck of a way to get your nails to dry!”
—Debbie Caponigro, Astoria, Oregon

“Free-climbing is not for the faint of heart.”
—Doug Croft, San Jose, California

“Whew! I used to be able to do 200 pull-ups. Better lay off the carbs.”
—Sue Detwiler, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“Poison only gets you so far....”
—Jodi Grace, Flushing, New York

“Hang in there; Friday's coming!”
—Pam Preskenis, Knoxville, Tennessee

“In training for the Poison Dart Frog Olympics.”
—Carol Sadler, Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia

“Maybe if I stay really still, Microsoft will feature me as their Windows desktop background!”
—Nandita Sampath, Redmond, Washington


January 2011

coyote and mouse by Robert M. Palmer


“But your Facebook profile says you are vegetarian!”
—Nandita Sampath, Redmond, Washington



“No! No! No! You put your RIGHT foot in first!”
—Judy Fish, Westerly, Rhode Island

“Put me in, coach, pleassssse!!”
—Tammy Gepfer, Coudersport, Pennsylvania

“Who are you calling short, Fuzzy?”
—Robbin Hair, Bradenton, Florida

“I'll have you know I'm a master in Kung Shrew!”
—Cody Hatley, Willow, Alaska

“Put that paw down. The last high-five you gave me knocked me out for a week.”
—Will Newman, Chicago, Illinois


December 2010

spotted hyena cub photographed by Chris Gamel


“Look, everyone! I got my braces off.”
—Ed Debowski, Laguna Niguel, California



All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth....
—Chris Bush, Sharpsburg, Georgia

“I'm too sexy...too sexy for my fur.”
—Joy Fernandez, Phoenix, Arizona

“If Mom only knew what I've been up to.”
—Scott Gardner, San Diego, California

Happiness is getting help with those hard-to-reach places.
—Michael Jarvis, Olathe, Kansas

Four out of five animal dentists recommend Hyena White!
—Geralyn Mott, Glenburn, Maine

“Mom... stop...not here. This is my school and my friends are looking.”
—Shubha Srinivasan, San Diego, California


November 2010

Emperor penguin chick jumps from ice, photographed by Sue Flood


Inexperience: Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to realize that you are a flightless bird.
—Evan Brown, Plainsboro, New Jersey


Ricky quickly regretted taking the “triple-dog-dare” to fly off the ice shelf.
—Doug Croft, San Jose, California

To infinity and beyond!
—Cody Hatley, Willow, Alaska

Percy auditions for the lead in the Dumbo remake.
—Donna Russell, Burlington, Vermont

Battling his identity issues, Jimmy makes a swan dive.
—Jason Schlosberg, Arlington, Virginia

“I'm the king of the... oomph!”
—Olivia Spence, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Nobody had told poor Rex that penguins are flightless birds.
—Debbie Vargas, Sacramento, California


October 2010

monitor lizards by Jayanth Sharma



“I've missed you, man! How long has it been? Cretaceous? Pleistocene?”

—Alyson Williams, Winchester, Virginia



"You just look like you need a hug!"
—Debra Kelly, Great Falls, South Carolina

Breakups are never easy.
—Charles Krueger, Saint Paul, Minnesota

“Mom, stop! Everyone on the entire campus is looking!”
—Renee Ross, Branchland, West Virginia

Indonesia's version of Dancing With the Stars is a little creepier, and a lot more entertaining!
—Tyler Sharpe, Ohio

David Lizardhoff and Jennifer Greyscales dance the Rumba on Dancing With the Komodos.
—Todd Thomas, Saxonburg, Pennsylvania

“I love it when you whisper sweet, non-fiery things in my ear!”
—C.L. Townsend


September 2010

squirrel and deer and feeder by Robert Gaines



“Cool your jets, Bambi! I'm working as fast as I can!”
-- Nadiza Bulkowski, Merrillville, Indiana



“Listening to all that crunchin’ and munchin’ is making my mouth water.”
—Kathryn Bakken, Everett, Washington

“That's yummy! Could you get me some more?”
—Joyce Greenisen, Kalkaska, Michigan

"Don't look at me with that doe-eyed face! You are NOT getting these seeds!"
—Araks Ohanyan, Glendale, California

Everyone had made fun of Bambi for having a lock-picking squirrel as a friend, but she knew it would pay off one day....
—Sarah Rose, Hilliard, Ohio

“Is that the new all-you-can-eat buffet?”
—Tracy Szela, West St. Paul, Minnesota


August 2010

sunflower in shades by Hira U Punjabi



"They call me ‘Mellow Yellow.’"
—Julie Gerkens



Sunny goes incognito to hide from the paparazzi.
—Crystal Boyko, Wakaw, Saskatchewan

Meet the cool cousin of the Little Shop of Horrors plant: Sunny Dee.
—Joyce Brown, New York, New York

“I'm too sexy for my petals!”
—Michele Fowler, Winder, Georgia

Introducing the long lost Blues Brother, Sunny R. Blues.
—Alyssa Maki, Gainesville, Florida

Sunflower Power.
—Carol Sadler, Atlanta, Georgia

“Take it from me―global warming is REAL!”
—Ken Schaefer, Columbus, Ohio

“The seed pickers won't recognize me behind my Foster Grants.”
—Terrie Slaton, Atlanta, Georgia


July 2010

tricolored heron chick by Lori A Cash



"That's it. No more flying through electrical storms."
—Marcia Blitstein, Long Grove, Illinois


“Call me crazy, but all the chicks dig it!”
—Kyle Duffy, Tucson, Arizona

“Don't even think of speaking to me until I've had my morning coffee.”

—Rob Falconer, Lakeland, Florida

“This is the last time I'll use Chia Pet hair gel!”
—Patsy Lewis, St. Augustine, Florida

Nightmare on Heron Street.
—David McLain, Azle, Texas

“I'm just having a bad heron day!”
—Nandita Sampath, Redmond, Washington

“What? You never had a bad feather day?”

—Ken Schaefer, Columbus, Ohio

“You should have seen the BEFORE picture.”
—Lane Smith, Tucson, Arizona


June 2010

squirrel in bird feeder by Philip Lax



Hello, this is OnStar. We have a signal that you are locked inside a cage.
—Terri Procopio, Indianapolis, Indiana



Sometimes you feel like a nut.
—Nina Braun, Boca Raton, Florida

The bird-proof squirrel feeder.
—Sara Cole, Detroit, Michigan

“If I don't get outta here soon, I'm gonna go nuts!”
—Pamela Davis, Newport News, Virginia

“Boss, I'm in. Now what?”
—Jerry Dawson, Glen Allen, Virginia

You can enter anytime you like, but you can never leave. (Hotel California)
—Daniele Grasser, Phoenix, Arizona

And now, we come to the squirrel exhibit...
—Mary Loftis, Germantown, Tennessee

Ever get that “trapped” feeling?
—Maggie Zawaski, Woodbridge, Virginia

The cage dancers at the Squirrel-A-Go-Go really shake their tails!
—Greg Zerkle, Reseda, California


May 2010

Black bear by James A Galletto



Black bear singing in the dead of day.
—Miky Turrill, Warne, North Carolina


“And I did it myyyyy wayyyyy.”
—Andrea Ayers, Denver, Colorado

“The phantom of the opera is there, inside my mind."
—JennaLeigh Berleue, Weston, Florida

Warming up for Goldilocks and the Three Tenors.
—Loren Booda, Arlington, Virginia

"But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?"
—Mallory Burns, Houston, Texas

“I solemnly swear that I will not raid bird feeders.”
—Carl Carbone, South Wales, New York

“....and it's a pop fly to center field to give the Bears the second out.”

—Kathleen Cochran, Acworth, Georgia

“One, two, three…one, two, three―this would be so much easier if I had a partner―one, two, three…”

—Deb Gorby, Central Michigan

"...O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
—Beth Hoffer, Holliston, Massachusetts

It’s not over until the fat bear sings.
—Theresa Shafer, Davenport, Florida

Back straight, arm elegantly out, head up, shoulders square.... Getting in position for his first foxtrot on Dancing with the Bears.
—Lane Smith, Tucson, Arizona

“I hope I make the cut for Dancing with the Bears.”
—Donna Vuncannon, Asheboro, North Carolina


April 2010

turtle and dragonfly by Warren E Boutchia



Turtle Lake―The Ballet
—Kandis Oldroyd, Greenville, Wisconsin



Synchronized Pairs Pond Skating
—William Harbour, Newtonville, New York

Dragonfly daringly demonstrates turtle tail-twister.
—Jennifer Jenkins, Isanti, Minnesota

The dragonfly yoga master was impressed by how well his turtle student could extend and hold the locust pose while elegantly balancing.
—Alyssa Maki, Gainesville, Florida

“Hey, you back there―you're blocking my sun.”
—Lane Smith, Tucson, Arizona


March 2010

African masked weaver by Richard Adams



The final exam from “Introduction to Basket Weaving.”
—Will Newman, Chicago, Illinois



“Nag, nag. I just know when I finish this nest she'll want to add a guest room.”
—Detwiler, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“The box said, ‘Easy to assemble instructions.’”
—Valerie Grzegorczyk, Ingleside, Illinois

The French Braid is really in this season.
—Lisa Hardy, Granbury, Texas

“This ‘building a nest’ job is for the birds!”
—Paula Stec, Alma, Michigan

“Now wait―was it ‘under, over, under’ or ‘over, under, over’?”
—Christine Vivian, Goose Lake, Iowa

“I'll put my claw down and you tie the knot!”

—Abiel Wettstein, Holmen, Wisconsin


February 2010

orangutans by Roberto Isotti and Alberto Cambone


"Wait, my mascara's smudged."
—Mary Loftis, Germantown, Tennessee



“We can’t take this photograph until ‘Hear No Evil’ shows up!”
—Lisa Hardy, Granbury, Texas

"And of course, I am grateful to my wife here for her forgiveness. As I leave office to begin the healing process...."
—Chris Clarke, Los Angeles, California

“I wish those paparazzi primates would just evolve already!”
—Deb Gorby, Chippewa Lake, Michigan

“Don't be shy, Mom. Everyone is afraid of the camera sometimes.”
—Tara Finnegan, Crestline, Ohio

“Don't fret; you're better off without her. She's such a swinger.”
—Valerie Grzegorczyk, Ingleside, Illinois

“Tell me when the scary part is over!!!”
—Patricia Pennebaker, Knoxville, Tennessee, and
—Sharon Tuschhoff, Oak Ridge, Missouri


January 2010

Titmouse on harmonica by Mark Chestnut


“Stevie Wonder, eat your heart out!!!”
―Michele Fowler, Winder, Georgia


“I got those low-down, mind-messin', feather-rufflin', beak-bustin', winter time blues!!”
―Manuel David, Lake Charles, Louisiana

“This one's called ‘The Bird Beak Blues’”
―Deb Gorby, Michigan

“I'm the original Blues Brother!”
―Lisa Murphy, Greenville, Rhode Island

“Forget Rockin’ Robin, I'm here to show ′em some Tootin' Titmouse!”
―Orphie (Sue) Street, Elwood, Indiana

"Look at all the holes. I can store a lot of seeds in this thing!"
―Paula Stec, Alma, Michigan

“OK, everyone―in the key of G...”
―Audrey Taylor, Alameda, New Mexico


December 2009

Polar bear close-up by Daniel J. Cox


“I just can't get the built-in camera on my laptop to work!”
M. Browne, Hampton, Virginia


Objects in the rearview mirror are closer then they appear.
T. Shafer, Davenport, Florida

The Blair Bear Project―Coming Soon to an Iceberg Near You
J. Featherall, Fairfax, Virginia

The dangers of licking a cold camera...
J. Gaster, Bettendorf, Iowa

“Are you always this nosey?”
R. Swart, Georgetown, Kentucky

November 2009

Mother opossum with babies on back


"Are we there yet? I gotta go! How much farther? What time is it? I'm bored. Billy's pulling my hair! Are we there yet? Sally's poking me! I'm thirsty. How much longer? Can we get something to eat?"
R. Swart, Georgetown, KY

Runners Up:

Animal Planet's New Octomom Reality Show
W. Aguilar, Fort Detrick, MD

"Mom, we need a headcount. I think Mikey fell off after that last hill."
S. Detwiler, Pittsburgh, PA

"I'm having a really hard time losing this baby weight."
K. Erwin

"Could you pull over, Mom? Winkie has to go."
K. Hottinger, Vidor, TX

Possum Mass Transit System
W. Lavin, Aurora, IL

—"I think I've finally figured out why my back pains are getting worse."
C. Sands, Princeton, MA

One opossum, two opossum,
Three opossum four;
Five opossum, six opossum,
Seven opossum, more;
Eight opossum, nine opossum;
Where is ten? Now we must count over again!
L. Zerweck, Hermosa Beach, CA

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