Bill Maynard: 'Owl eyes' wildlife photographer


Saw-whet owl wins Westboro wildlife photographer first prize

UPDATE: This article originally appeared in Kitchissippi Times July 26, 2012. Bill Maynard’s famous owl photograph now adorns a bus as part of an advertising campaign for the Museum of Nature.

Westboro wildlife photographer Bill Maynard will wake up at any hour and patiently wait as long as it takes—sometimes upward of five hours—to find a stunning shot. He’s the winner of the bird photo of the year for his close-up of a saw-whet owl in Canadian Geographic’s wildlife photography contest. The winning photo will be published in an upcoming issue of Canadian Geographic and was on display at the Canadian Museum of Nature until August 26.

“The saw-whet owl is the smallest owl in North America at just 6-8 inches,” says Maynard who found this one on Amherst Island, near Kingston. “They weigh three ounces and hang out in coniferous trees. If you saw this little owl sitting on a branch, you’d think it was a Christmas ornament, especially because its defence mechanism is to sit very, very still.”

Maynard knew this photo was special when he took it as nocturnal saw-whets only open their eyes for about five seconds when you come close to them before going back to sleep. Other photos he’s seen of saw-whets have their eyes closed.

A passionate wildlife photographer who hopes his prints inspire people to become more involved in wildlife conservation, Maynard posts his best shots on his website, Living close to the Ottawa River, Maynard says many of his waterfowl pictures—with the exception of the loon shots—are taken in Kitchissippi.

To celebrate his upcoming 50th birthday, Maynard is treating himself to an exclusive photography trip to Alaska’s Katmai Coast to take pictures of grizzly bears with a guide and a group of six other photographers. “Art Wolfe is a wildlife photographer I admire,” explains Maynard. “I watched a documentary of him on the exact same trip, taking pictures of the grizzly bears while they’re catching salmon and uninterested in humans. I booked the trip over a year and a half ago. My friends think I’m nuts, but for a wildlife photographer, sitting in a bug jacket on a sardine boat and taking pictures of grizzlies in 21 hours of daylight is a dream vacation.”

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