Update: After learning about serious allegations against Jason Ward, the National Audubon Society has severed its ties with him and rescinded its invitation to have him judge the 2021 Audubon Photography Awards. 

NEW YORK – Today, the 2021 Audubon Photography Awards are officially open for entries, including submissions for two new prizes: the Female Bird Prize and Video Prize. Judges will award eight prizes to photographers and videographers this year: the Grand Prize, Professional Prize, Amateur Prize, Youth Prize, Plants for Birds Prize, the Fisher Prize, the Female Bird Prize, and the Video Prize. 

The Female Bird Prize will go to the top image depicting a female bird, casting the spotlight on an often-overlooked subject in both bird photography and science. Because female birds are more elusive and less flashy than their male counterparts, this prize not only adds an extra challenge for photographers, but it also aims to promote balanced research in the ornithology and the birding worlds.   

The contest's new Video category and prize aim to capture bird life in its full glory with moving images of birds performing interesting behaviors and interacting with their habitat. Submissions must contain at least one bird or bird part and accurately reflect the subject matter as it appeared in the viewfinder. Video captured by “digiscoping” (holding a mobile phone or digital camera to a spotting scope) is encouraged in this category 


Winning photos and videos will be featured in a future issue of Audubon magazine. Top photos and honorable mentions will also be showcased in a virtual Audubon Photography Awards exhibit hosted by Audubon chapters and centers nationwide.  


Prizes include:  

  • Grand Prize: $5,000 USD 
  • Professional Prize:  $2,500 USD 
  • Amateur Prize:  $2,500 USD 
  • Plants for Birds Prize: $2,500 USD 
  • Video Prize: $2,500 USD 
  • Female Bird Prize: $1,000 USD 
  • Fisher Prize: $1,000 USD  
  • Youth Prize: Six days at Audubon's Hog Island Audubon Camp during the 2022 season. 

The judging panel for the 2021 contest welcomes new experts, including: 

  • Mike Fernandez, video producer, National Audubon Society 
  • Sean Graesserbiologist, conservation photographer, and founding member and creative director of Wild Bird Research Group 
  • Tara Tanaka, bird photographer, videographer, and Swarovski’s international Digiscoper of the Year (2011 and 2012) 
  • Kathy Moran, deputy director of photography, National Geographic Partners 
  • Founders of the Galbatross Project: 
    • Brooke Bateman, senior scientist, National Audubon Society 
    • Stephanie Beilke, conservation scientist, Audubon Great Lakes 
    • Martha Harbison, senior network content editor, National Audubon Society 
    • Purbita Saha, member, Bergen County Audubon Society, and former Audubon magazine editor  
    • Joanna Wu, avian biologist, National Audubon Society 

Returning judges for the 2021 contest are: 

  • Sabine Meyer, photography director, National Audubon Society 
  • Allen Murabayashi, co-founder, PhotoShelter 
  • John Rowden, senior director of bird-friendly communities, National Audubon Society 

Photography and videos offer birdwatchers and bird-enthusiasts a glimpse into the allure of avian life and the beauty of the natural world, and it’s more important than ever to protect birds as they grow increasingly imperiled. In its final days, the Trump Administration took its last step to strip critical protections for the country’s most important bird-protection law – the Migratory Bird Treaty Act