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Smile for the camera: The best entries in the 2019 Squirrel Week Squirrel Photography Contest

Hundreds of photographers entered. These are my 20 favorite pictures.

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“It’s one of those love/hate relationships,” said Michael Dupont, the winner of my 2019 Squirrel Week Squirrel Photography Contest. Michael hates how squirrels steal the sunflower seeds he’s put out for the birds. But he loves how single-minded and creative squirrels are in their quest.

Squirrels that fly and squirrels that jump round out Squirrel Week 2019

“He was very determined,” Michael said of the Eastern gray squirrel he snapped leaping toward the bird feeder in the backyard of his Centreville, Va., home.

“They are very intelligent animals,” said Michael, who works at the College Board, where he helps develop software. “And if there’s a way to get to the feeder, they will get to it.”

I like the way Michael caught the squirrel at its apogee, freezing it forever mid-leap.

His was one of hundreds of photos that came my way. Here are more of my favorites, certain to satisfy the most ardent squirrel lover. If you are a squirrel hater, it’s time to click on another page.

When Barbara J. Saffir of Fairfax, Va., trained her camera on a squirrel busily making a meal of a sunflower head on her balcony, she created a photo that reminded me of an Old Masters painting. Said Barbara: “Squirrels are probably the last wild critters left in our uber-developed country that we can regularly and easily find from cities to suburbs to the wilderness.”

Dean Musser can’t remember where he got the little wire bicycle that he stuck on an old fence pole in front of his Alexandria house, but when he drops some peanuts in the basket, the squirrels like to take a ride. He calls this photo “Tour de France.”

Andrew Pasko-Reader of the District managed to snap this squirrel taking a sip from the fountain in the center of Dupont Circle.

It looks like the feeder in this photo by Kevin Gallo of Vienna, Va., was far from squirrel-proof. “I took down the feeder so he could get out,” Kevin said. “The next day, he was stealing a tomato off of one of our neighbor’s plants.”

While strolling on Boston Common, Sara Tangney of Wethersfield, Conn., spotted a squirrel feasting on a walnut from an unusual perch.

This frisky red squirrel in Berlin was photographed by Yola Rose.

This moment of Zen is brought to you by Andy Myrup of Silver Spring. Don’t forget: Chipmunks are in the squirrel family.

A Harris’s antelope squirrel balances amid cactus spines in this sharp photo by Corey Seeman of Saline, Mich.

Angela Napili came across this squirrel in Lafayette Square. “The pink background is because magnolias were in bloom,” she said.

“I have no idea how these baby squirrels ended up looking so at ease in a broken paper bag,” said Zach Morrison, who encountered this trio in Morningside Heights on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “When a couple began to walk towards us, I took the photo hoping to create a friendship-themed image.”

Hesed M. Padilla-Nash of Lovettsville, Va., calls this photo of an unlikely pair “Dining Companions.”

“Aqualung (Ode to Jethro Tull)” is the cheeky title of this photo by Michael Oberman of Columbia, Md.

Jill Michels has been feeding and taking pictures of squirrels in DeKalb, Ill., for six years. This photo is of her favorite squirrel, “Blackbeard.”

Timothy Pelczynski of Sterling, Va., has nicknamed this squirrel “Sugar.”

The gleaming white U.S. Capitol makes a nice backdrop for the gleaming white squirrel in this photo by Victoria Pickering of Bethesda.

“Do Nuttin’ Day” is the title of this photo, taken by Darby Rolf in Topeka, Kan. “This lazy little guy was trying to decide whether coming down for a peanut was worth it or not,” Darby said.

And while we’re on the subject of lazy squirrels, Michael P. Berry calls this photo “Sunbathing.”

This juvenile squirrel looks so innocent in this photo by Mary McGonigal of Franklin, N.C.

And finally, Hildy Eppel Hassman of Reisterstown, Md., has the perfect title for her photo: “What’re YOU Lookin’ At?”

You’ve been looking at the cream of the crop of the 2019 Washington Post Squirrel Week Squirrel Photography Contest. Thank you to all the photographers who entered. Keep your eyes peeled and your cameras ready. You never know when a squirrel will strike a pose.