Wildlife photographer Paul Bannick explores owl communication


Award-winning author and photographer Paul Bannick will speak virtually February 15 at York County Audubon about snowy owls.

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — If a picture is worth a thousand words, wildlife photographer Paul Bannick has a lot to say.

Bannick is an award-winning author and photographer who has spent years studying and tracking owls in North America. Tuesday, the York County Audubon will host a virtual conference where Bannick will talk about one of his last two books, “Snowy Owl: A Visual Natural History”.

Bannick has spent countless hours traveling across North America, searching for the 19 different species that live here.

“Owls are messengers…because they come from places where we rarely see them, and they give us insight, and then hopefully we’ve become curious about that messenger. What’s the message ?” said Bannick.

It is to decipher these messages that this former computer engineer has devoted his life. Growing up in a large family of 13 children in Washington State, Bannick was fascinated by animals from an early age.

“I remember frogs, salamanders, birds. Those are my earliest memories,” Bannick recalls.

Bannick witnessed changing landscapes and habitats when the area behind his childhood home was being developed, and the animals he had once observed were no longer there. He tried to get his brother’s attention on the matter to no avail.

“No one was paying attention until I started photographing them,” Bannick said.

With a camera as a tool, Bannick found he could paint a bigger picture of the natural world and the messages he saw. Over the past two decades he has written four books on owls in North America.

“The snowy owls are the ambassadors of the Arctic,” Bannick said.

From his lively language as he talks about female snowy owls and their devotion to their young, it’s clear to see his affinity for these creatures that comes from thousands of hours of intimate and rare observation.

Bannick’s photography has won several awards and has been featured in ornithological guides from Audubon, the Smithsonian, Stokes, and the National Wildlife Federation. He appeared on NBC Nightly News and Travels with Rick Steves.

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