Addicted to Snowy Owls

Continued from “I Won’t Find Success until I Find a Snowy Owl.”

snowy owl, maine, nature

It wasn’t the only Snowy Owl I saw that winter. I was addicted, I had to see more. Since my dad and I had struck out at Scarborough Marsh, we went to another owl stronghold, Biddeford Pool. It was an odd place for owls, given that it was rather developed and the ocean was too rough to ever freeze. The owls sat on frozen expanses of the pool or a nearby pond, or watched us humans below as they perched delicately on top of chimneys and rooftops.

My Dad and I surveyed these rooftops, but saw our first owl sitting on a frozen grassland bordering the sea, so camouflaged we only caught sight of it when it moved slightly in the snow. I managed a photo or two, but the owl flew off in the direction of the harbor, to which we quickly drove.

snowy owl, nature, maine

The harbor was small here, consisting of a few fishing docks and a yacht club. Old lobster traps were stacked up against a wooden building, and though signs warned strangers to keep their distance there was absolutely no one around, and when a bird is present I become, er, not the best follower of signs.

If someone came towards me, demanding I get lost, what would I do? Easy: point to the owl and watch their own eyes get wide and quickly forget that I was in trouble in the first place. On top of that, I’m young, I’m a girl, and I’m hoping it’s impossible for weather-beaten fishermen to be mad at me for too long.

I gingerly made my way onto the short pier, scanning the rocky islands and boats along the horizon for an owl. It turns out, all I needed to do was look up! There I ran into a photographers dream: my owl sat on an old wooden lamppost, relaxed, allowing me to approach from beneath and take as many pictures as my heart desired at close range. From fifteen feet its feathers looked fluffy against the cold, and his eyes shown an even more impressive gold. Upon returning to this spot with my cousins, I saw another owl in the harbor, clearly making this place an owl hotspot.


Erika Zambello

About Erika Zambello

Erika Zambello is a writer, birder, and photographer, born and raised in Maine. She has a bachelor’s degree in Government and Anthropology from Cornell University, and a master’s degree in Environmental Management from Duke University, specializing in ecosystem science and conservation. Her love of the outdoors was inspired by her childhood in Maine, and she returned for her National Geographic Young Explorer grant in 2015-2016.