Finding a Rare Bird
Photographs by Joseph Zeno
In The Studio, June 2–10, 2023
Friday, June 2 | 5–7 pm
Bird walk with Joseph Zeno
Sunday, June 11 | 8:30–10 am
Fridays–Saturdays | 10 am–4 pm
Sunday 12–4 pm
Joseph Zeno is an 18-year-old photographer based in Terra Linda. He has been taking photographs of birds around Marin County and beyond since he was 12 years old.
As a birder, I take photos to confirm an identification or document a rare bird. I spend a lot of time waiting for a bird to exhibit a characteristic behavior or approach me so I can obtain a higher resolution image. Each photo in this collection is of a subject that I have spent hours trying to see. Coming home with a “keeper” photo takes patience.
Generally, I try to capture a bird when it is frontlit and in an interesting position. Using the light level of my scene, I adjust my camera’s settings to optimize high resolution. Most important is observing behavior because if a bird is getting ready to take off, I have to focus all of my attention on it and be ready to hold down the shutter as soon as it takes flight.
My style of photography is inspired by the experience of finding a rare bird. Birds are among the most beautiful and readily visible animals to see in the wild. By capturing endangered and rare species in photographs, I feel like I can share my love for them with a wider audience, some of whom may have resources to protect them.
I am enrolling in the University of California at Davis for Fall 2023. I am going to major in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. This major is perfect for me because it draws upon my wildlife photography and birding experience with the Marin Audubon Society and Point Blue Conservation Science.
In my first year, I will study ecology and conservation biology of vertebrates, and explore challenges of real-world conservation issues in natural and disturbed environments. I am interested in pursuing a career in applied research and conservation, so I will seek classes that teach quantitative field methods and analysis.
As a scientist, there are many potential careers that I could pursue working with state agencies like the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Water Resources, or with environmental consulting firms and local watershed groups focused on restoration ecology or wildlife biology.
I have been told that going into an environmental field isn’t the most financially lucrative path, but the environment is being increasingly strained by human activity, and biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate. I want to contribute to helping conserve wildlife because a world that promotes biodiversity sustains a healthy environment for people as well.
Back in 2021, Joseph gave an interview to the Marin County Free Library’s Teen Leadership Council publication “The Spire,” about how he got into birding and his favorite spots to see bird species in the county.