Meet the 2024 Judges

Your work will be evaluated by a panel of bird photographers, videographers and experts.

Judges Bios

Amateur, Professional, Youth, Grand, Plants for Birds, Fisher, and Birds in Landscapes Prizes:

  • Sabine Meyer, photography director, National Audubon Society
  • Lucas Bustamante, environmental photojournalist and biologist
  • Preeti Desai, senior director of social media & storytelling, National Audubon Society
  • Daniel Dietrich, wildlife photographer, filmmaker and cinematographer
  • Morgan Heim, conservation photographer, filmmaker and adventurer
  • Noppadol Paothong, nature/conservation photographer
  • John Rowden, conservation consultant and native plants expert 

Video Prize:

  • Mike Fernandez, video producer, National Audubon Society
  • Rina Miele, wildlife photographer and videographer
  • Mick Thompson, wildlife photographer and videographer

Female Bird Prize:

  • Alyssa Bueno, wildlife photographer, Feminist Bird Club
  • Founders of the Galbatross Project: Brooke Bateman, Stephanie Beilke, Martha Harbison, Joanna Wu


Sabine Meyer

Sabine Meyer is the photography director for the National Audubon Society. She has worked for a range of publications and organizations, including National Geographic Adventure, Condé Nast Traveler, New York Magazine, TIME, U.N. Population Fund, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, and AARP Media. Sabine is an affiliate with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) and served on the faculty at the School of the International Center of Photography, where she taught photo editing for more than a decade. She also spent seven years as the co-director and curator of Fovea Exhibitions, a Beacon, New York–based nonprofit advocating visual literacy through photojournalism and documentary photography. She mentors and reviews photo portfolios regularly and currently volunteers for the Newburgh Community Photo Project.

Lucas Bustamante 

Lucas Bustamante grew up around the Ecuadorian outdoors and became a passionate biologist and an environmental photojournalist. His goal is to use photography to promote wildlife conservation, and to that end, he manages projects throughout South America, Africa and Asia.Lucas co-founded Tropical Herping and Savia Fund, an Ecuadorian nonprofit that works in the legal defense of nature, environmental and cultural conservation, and visual storytelling. Books he’s written includeReptiles of the Galapagos and he has described eight new species for science. His photographic work has been featured in National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, GEO, Smithsonian, Audubon, and many other magazines, books, photo exhibitions, and articles. Lucas is a Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice prize winner. He is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) and Nature Picture Library represents his images.

Preeti Desai 

Preeti Desai (she/her) has always had a passion for nature and wildlife but found her way specifically to birds after joining the National Audubon Society, where she is the senior director of social media & storytelling. In this role, she strategically employs photography and videography to inspire and motivate people to take action to protect birds and the places they need. She has been fortunate to travel to several birding hotspots for Audubon to communicate this message, including Nebraska's Rowe Sanctuary, Florida's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Costa Rica, and Colombia. Preeti's love of photography developed while growing up in New Jersey, which, despite stereotypes, is full of great places to get outdoors. She is on the board of Wild Bird Research Group, a New Jersey based nonprofit that is dedicated to conducting science, building knowledge, and fostering appreciation for the conservation of wild birds. Preeti's work has been published by Audubon, Hemispheres, and Time, among others.

Daniel Dietrich

Daniel Dietrich is an award-winning wildlife photographer, filmmaker, and cinematographer living in Inverness, California. His photographs, videos, and writings have been featured on TV, in multiple films, and in numerous publications, including Audubon, National Geographic, ABC, PBS, Outdoor Photographer, and the LA Times. His commitment to ethics in wildlife photography is of the utmost importance in his work. Daniel sits on the ethics committee for the North America Nature Photography Association (NANPA), founded the non-profit Conservation Kids, and operates Point Reyes Safaris, a wildlife photography safari company focusing on wild bobcats and other wildlife in Northern California. Daniel is deeply committed to the protection and restoration of Point Reyes National Seashore.

Morgan Heim

Morgan (Mo) Heim is a conservation photographer, filmmaker, and adventurer focusing on the ways human-influenced environmental changes impact wildlife. With a background in science and journalism, her goal is to find the beauty, humor, and perseverance in stories about wildlife, and how those stories teach us about who we are and who we might become. Morgan is a senior fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, a mentor for Girls Who Click, and founder of Neon Raven Story Labs, a storytelling and strategy platform for conservation. In 2020 she co-launched Her Wild Vision Initiative aimed at raising the voices of diverse women in the craft of conservation visual storytelling. Her work appears in outlets such as Audubon, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Newsweek, and The New York Times.

Rina Miele

Rina Miele is a photographer and videographer based in New York. She loves all aspects of making an image, though when she became fascinated with birds, things escalated quickly. All the gear. All the best ways to capture them. And when photography wasn’t enough, she started leaning hard into video, which brought a new dimension to her work. Video encourages people to see something they haven’t seen before: The bird and the situation inform how the story is told, versus simply shooting a bird in a specific visual style. Rina applied this way of thinking from her experience navigating the design world. When she’s not behind the camera, she is a creative director and designer, specializing in developing multifaceted experiences for brands, big and small.

Noppadol Paothong

Noppadol Paothong is an award-winning nature and conservation photographer and a staff photographer with the Missouri Department of Conservation. His focus has been rare and endangered species, primarily grassland grouse and their fragile habitat. Those efforts resulted in two large-format books, Save the Last Dance: A Story of North American Grassland Grouse and Sage Grouse: Icon of the West. An associate fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), Noppadol has been honored as Missouri Photojournalist of the Year and in contests held by the Outdoor Writers Association of America, National Wildlife, Nature’s Best, and the Audubon Photography Awards. His images regularly appear in agency publications, including Missouri Conservationist and Xplor, and in national magazines, such as Audubon, Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife, Ranger Rick, and Sierra. Noppadol shares his work and passion through programs and presentations across the country, and he hopes that these will help people connect, at a personal and emotional level, with nature and the conservation issues that he deeply cares about.

John Rowden 

John Rowden has a lifelong passion for nature and earned his PhD in Zoology from Duke University. His career has focused on educating and empowering people to contribute directly to avian conservation in their own communities, both nationally and internationally. He has worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Auckland Zoo, and National Audubon Society, from the Australian Outback to the rainforest of Borneo to high altitude salt lakes in Chile and Argentina. He currently works as a consultant for conservation clients and serves on the board of the Sequoia Parks Conservancy. 

Mike Fernandez

Mike Fernandez is the video producer for the National Audubon Society. He was born in Lima, Peru, and completed his studies in documentary practice and photojournalism at the International Center of Photography. Mike is committed to addressing the diversity gap—principally, a lack of people of color and young people in the environmental field and conservation movement. His work has been featured in New York Magazine, The New York Times, Aperture Gallery, Univision, De Standaard (Belgium), FronteraD (Spain), and Audubon, and he has produced video projects for David Yurman, the New York Theatre Workshop, HERE Arts Center, and others.

Mick Thompson

Mick Thompson has been an amateur bird photographer for more than 35 years. He has traveled extensively throughout the United States and Canada creating a portfolio of over 3,000 photos and videos that are used regularly by Audubon and its affiliated chapters. He is also a contributing photographer for BirdNote and his photos have been used by ABC News, NPR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, BBC Earth, and many nonprofit organizations. As a volunteer at Eastside Audubon in the suburbs of Seattle, he served for ten years as chapter photographer, providing all their photography needs. A retired Information Technology professional, Mick splits the year between Redmond, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

Alyssa Bueno 

Alyssa Bueno is a birder and wildlife photographer based in New York City, specializing in capturing urban birds in their environment. Her work showcases the resilience of urban birds in the face of city challenges. She developed a passion for birding in 2019 through Feminist Bird Club events and now leads outings and workshops for organizations like NYC Audubon, Feminist Bird Club, Brooklyn Bird Club, and NYC Parks. Outside of the lens, Alyssa is a graduate student at CUNY Queens College studying tidal marsh birds.

Founders of the Galbatross Project

The founders of the Galbatross Project are a group of scientists, birders, writers, and conservationists who are connected through the National Audubon Society. They first came together as “The Galbatrosses” to count feathered females at the 2019 World Series of Birding. Because the pandemic made it impossible for the team to convene for another World Series, in May 2020 they established #FemaleBirdDay to share the love of female birds with the rest of their diverse community via social media. The Galbatrosses include Brooke Bateman (she/her), Audubon’s director of climate science; Stephanie Beilke (she/her), senior manager, conservation science for Audubon Great Lakes; Martha Harbison (they/them), senior network content editor for Audubon; and Joanna Wu (she/her), PhD student at UCLA. Through the Galbatross Project they hope to create an engaging way for everyone to get to know some of the most overlooked birds on the planet.