Category Archives: Snowy Owls


Friday evening I had the joy of attending “The Story of Seabrook the Snowy Owl” held at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests Education Center at Creek Farm in Portsmouth. The event was cohosted by Jane Kelly, On the Wing wildlife rehabilitator, and photographer Johnathan Herrick. Johnathan presented a slideshow of beautiful images of Seabrook. He has been chronicling the Snowy’s adventures since first arriving in December. Topics covered at the meeting also included rodenticide poisoning, how to ethically view Snowy Owls when they are on our shores, and Floki, On the Wing’s resident owl ambassador.



Johnathan and son Maverick

You may recall from several previous posts that Johnathan rescued Seabrook as he lay slowly dying on the beach, unable to fly. Seabrook had consumed a rat or mouse that was dying from rat poison (the horrible black boxes filled with rodenticide that some folks are unfortunately so fond of using). He was suffering from secondary rat poison and hemorrhaging massively. When Johnathan arrived, Seabrook was trapped between a seawall and the incoming tide and was on his way to being washed out to sea.

Seabrook was so far gone when he was rescued, no one, including Jane and her staff, thought he would survive. After a six-week stint at On the Wing raptor rehab center, Seabrook made a full recovery. A wonderful release event attended by several hundred onlookers and fans was held in March. Seabrook flew magnificently over the crowd, toward the tree line, and then to the shore.

On my way to and from the program, I drove along the scenic route to New Hampshire, not expecting to see Seabrook, but there he was, spending the afternoon sleeping peacefully in the sun before heading out to hunt.

Seabrook is basically a very chill bird however, that doesn’t mean we should get close when photographing or observing. Please stay at a minimum of two hundred feet, please don’t try to get close with cell phone cameras, and folks with super zoom telephoto lens, have no reason to come close. When people bring their lawn chairs and park themselves all day next to a Snowy it is so stressful to the bird and totally uncool.

Some tips for Snowy watching:

Stand at a minimum of 200 feet away.

Stay low and hide behind a shrub or tree, if possible.

Move slowly, and if with a friend or a group, speak softly.

Don’t park yourself for hours near a Snowy. Take a few photos and please MOVE ON.

 *      *      *

Jane brought along On the Wing’s ambassador Snowy Owl , Floki. Born in captivity, Floki’s behavior is nothing like a wild Snowy Owl nonetheless, it was wonderfully interesting to learn more about Snowies in general and about the captive owl and his quirky personality.

On the Wing is a citizen funded operation that saves over 400 raptors per year.

Donations can be submitted via:
Venmo @OnTheWingNH

Snail mail:
On The Wing
47 Prescott Rd.
Epping, NH 03042 .
Thank you!

To learn how you can help owls, eagles, and other raptors from succumbing to rodenticide poisoning, follow this link:  PROTECT MASS. BIRDS OF PREY -Decrease Rat Poison


On my way to Portsmouth, I stopped at HamptonBeach to check on the Plovers there. It was great to see that New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has cordoned off the Plover breeding habitat and has posted a number of signs.

Surfs up at Hampton Beach!


On the Wing wildlife rehabilitator Jane Kelly and USFWS biologist Bri Benvenuti set the Snowy Owl affectionately nicknamed “Seabrook” off on his flight for freedom.

On February 3rd, Seabrook was discovered by a woman at Seabrook Beach. He was suffering terribly from secondary rat poison (rodenticide) and other related conditions. She contacted On the Wing, a New Hampshire based wildlife rehabilitation center that focuses primarily on saving raptors. Jonathan Herrick, friend of On the Wing, volunteered to bring Seabrook to OtW headquarters.

Seabrook is a fighter and for the past six weeks, this magnificent male Snowy has been steadily recovering. Initially, Jane and staff administered round the clock doses of vitamin K and subcutaneous fluids to help stop the bleeding from the anticoagulant agent in the rodenticide, which were then followed by antibiotics and other meds to treat his injuries. Many owls, and other raptors that prey upon small mammals, are not as fortunate as Seabrook. Serious illness, and death, resulting from secondary rat poison is a deadly and ever increasing problem.

When Seabrook was first admitted, he was covered in lice as he was too weak to even groom his feathers.

Image courtesy On the Wing
Receiving no government financial aid, On the Wing is a citizen funded operation that saves over 400 raptors per year. If you are able, monetary donations can be submitted via:
Venmo @OnTheWingNH
Snail mail:
On The Wing
47 Prescott Rd.
Epping, NH 03042 .
Thank you!
Hundreds of Snowy Owl fans attended the release
When an owl, hawk, falcon, or eagle eats prey that has been poisoned by rodenticide, the rat poison also gets into the system of the raptor. A recent study by Tufts University reveals that 88 percent of raptors have varying degrees of rat poison.


Cape Ann Wildlife – a year in pictures and stories

July through December continued from part one

July 2021

Conserve Wildlife NJ senior biologist Todd Pover makes a site visit to Cape Ann beaches, summer long updates from “Plover Central,” GHB Killdeer dune family raise a second brood of chicks,  Cape Hedge chick lost after fireworks disturbance and then reunited with Fam, Great Black-backed Gulls are eating our Plover chicks, thousands of Moon Snail collars at Cape Hedge,  Monarchs abound, #savesaltisland, missing Iguana Skittles, and Earwig eating Cecropia Moth cats.

August 2021

New short film for the Sawyer Free Library The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch!, Coastal Waterbird Conservation Cooperators meeting new short Piping Plover film, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the garden, why we love Joe-pye and other wildflowers, butterfly friends, Monarch cats in the garden, what is the purpose of the gold dots found on Monarch chrysalides?,Black Beauty came calling, Tigers in the garden, School Street sunflowers, Hoverflies, luminescent Sea Salps return to Cape Ann beaches, Petal Dancers and lemony Yellow Sulphurs on the wing.


September 2021

Flower Fairies, irruptive Green Darner migration, mini glossary of late summer butterflies, what to do if you find a tagged Monarch, Painted Ladies, White-tailed Deer family, Monarchs mating, Tangerine Butterflies,  yellow fellow in the hood, and Beauty on the Wing first ever live screening at the Shalin Liu.

October 2021

Bee-sized butterfly the American Copper, Monarch conga line, Thunder and Cloud, abandoned Piping Plover egg, School Street Sunflowers, Monarchs migrating, quotidian splendor, Monarch fundraiser updates, collecting milkweed seeds, the Differential Grasshopper, Cooper’s Hawk – a conservation success story,  #ploverjoyed, and nor’easter from the EP Lighthouse.

November 2021

Bridges between life and death, ancient oak tree uprooted, autumn harvest for feathered friends, Monarch migration update, we have achieved our fundraising goal!, Harbor Seal pup hauled out,  flight of the Snow Buntings, and a very rare for these parts wandering Wood Stork calls Cape Ann home for a month.

December 2021

New short film Wandering Wood Stork, tiny tender screech owl suffering from rat poison under the care of Cape Ann Wildlife Inc., Praying Mantis in the autumn garden, masked bandits in the hood, short film The Majestic Buck and Beautiful Doe Courtship Frolic, Snowy Owl boy in the dunes, short film Cedar Waxwing vocalization, the story of the Steller’s Sea-Eagle’s foray to Massachusetts, and Harbor Seal Pig Pile.












Laying low in the dunes, I unexpectedly came upon this beautiful Snowy Owl. He appeared to be superficially injured (see arrow in photo below).The Snowy is perhaps a male, and on the younger side. You can often tell the difference between male and female because the male has lighter barring in the wing patterning, although the darkest male can also look like a female with lighter wing barring.

Note the sharp difference in wing pattering: The Snowy Owl on the left (Cape Ann’s Hedwig) is most likely a female, while the Snowy from the dunes, on the right, is more likely than not, a male.

It”s not easy being a bright white Snowy against the golden yellow of dunes. The white wedge shapes are easily detected by all manner of harassing critters, most notably Crows and gulls. Flying overhead, too, was a territorial battle royale between a Peregrine Falcon and a Red-tailed Hawk.

In the video posted here, which is part one of a five part series from the Snowy Owl Film Project, you can see the beautiful Snowy that called Cape Ann’s back shore home for a winter is being harassed and dive-bombed by Crows, at 1:00 to 1:25.

More photos of the Snowy recently spotted in the dunes just after daybreak


I think perhaps because we are enjoying more freedom than we have had over the past year and a half, coupled with delightfully balmy weather, this year’s All Hallows Eve was especially magical and festive. I love how our East Gloucester neighbors celebrate the evening. The surrounding streets become a spread-out block party of sorts, with families and friends traveling in large groups, kids running rambunctiously about, sometimes with the adults, sometimes not, lots of laughter, catching up, treats, and funny tricks. And it seemed as though everyone stepped up their decorations, too.

We love making our ofrenda, not only as a tribute to loved ones that have passed, but I think of our offering as a way to express love for the beautiful creatures in our lives.

Celebrating Dia de Muertos brings back cherished memories of my sweet brother, who died way too young. Our beloved and generous grandmother, Mimi, was an artist who provided tremendous inspiration to me during her long, full, life well-lived. I think too of my husband’s best friend and song writing partner, Brian, who also died needlessly and way too young.

Joyful thoughts turn to the carved wooden creatures representative of a Piping Plover, Snowy Owl, and our crazy, fun, affectionate cat Cosmos, who passed away at 27 years old. This year we added a  wonderfully thoughtful  gift from my friend Mary Weissblum, a very realistic hand painted Monarch.

To add to the magic, the three Monarchs that eclosed during the wildly windy nor’easter, along with a fourth that emerged early Halloween morning, were released. Mid-day on the 31st, the four began shivering and quivering, as if waking from a deep sleep. When muscles were sufficiently warmed, they all took flight in a southwesterly direction.

Safe travels Monarca!

“Piping Plover”

“Snowy Owl”


Beautiful Monarch from Mary

Bridges Between Life and Death ~  Celebrating Halloween – Dia de Muertos – All Souls Day – All Saints Day  ~ October 31st  through November 2nd


A beautiful mysterious Snowy Owl has spent the winter here on Cape Ann. She is very elusive, never dallying too long in one location. She has been spotted in the Good Harbor Beach dunes, Long Beach, Salt Island, Middle Street rooftops, woods, Back Shore, Bass Rocks, Rocky Neck, Smith’s Cove, and even at the bottom of our hill on Pirate’s Lane.

Thank you to many friends who have alerted me to her presence – Hilary, Catherine, Grace, Nicole, Gordon, Arley, Frankie, Susan, Roger – if I forgot to include you, I mean to thank you, too!

If you spotted a Snowy on Cape this winter, please write. I do not believe Cape Ann’s Snowy is still about however, if you do see a Snowy, please leave a comment or feel free to email at Thank you!

I am almost certain she is not the same Snowy that stayed with us several winter’s ago. Unlike Piping Plovers, from tracking data, we know that Snowies don’t generally return to the same location every winter, and many only migrate during their youth. In case you missed it, here is a link to a series of fun educational short films that I made about Cape Ann’s 2018 resident Snowy Owl, including bathing, capturing a seabird, and passing a pellet. Snowy Owl Film Project

It’s been a banner year for Snowy Owls at Salisbury Beach, Sandy Point, and Parker River, so much so I have gone out of my way to avoid stopping to photograph owls at these locations for fear of disturbing the Snowies. There are a great deal more people out and about photographing than in previous years, due largely to the pandemic, and the owl disturbances are many.




Several years ago my husband suggested I write a “year end” wildlife review about all the creatures seen over the preceding year. That first review was a joyful endeavor though daunting enough. Over the next several years the reviews became more lengthy as I tried to cover every beautiful, wonderful creature that was encountered on woodland hikes, beaches, dunes, marshes, ponds, and our own backyards and neighborhoods. 2020 has been a very different year. There were just as many local wildlife stories as in previous years however, the pandemic and political climate have had far reaching consequences across geographic regions around the world, touching every living creature in the interconnected web of life we call our ecosystems.

This first year of the global pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact on wildlife and their habitats. In urban areas in developed countries, perhaps the economic slowdown afforded wildlife a break, with less pollution, less air travel, and some wild animals even reclaiming territory. Though the true downside of Covid-19 is that the pandemic has had an extraordinarily harmful impact on wildlife in rural areas and in less developed countries People who are dependent upon tourism, along with people who have lost jobs in cities and are returning to rural areas, are placing increasing pressure on wildlife by poaching, illegal mining, and logging. As mining and logging destroy wildlife habitats, animals are forced into ever shrinking areas, causing them to become sick, stressed, and to starve to death. These same stressed wild animals come in contact with people and farm animals, creating an ever increasing potential to transmit horrifically deadly illness, diseases such as Covid-19.

There are many, many organizations working to protect wildlife and conserve their habitats. I am especially in awe of one particular grass roots non-profit organization located in Macheros, Mexico, previously featured here, Butterflies and Their People. Co-founded by Ellen Sharp and Joel Moreno Rojas, the work they are doing to both protect the butterfly’s winter habit and provide employment for the forest’s guardians is outstanding.

All the butterfly sanctuaries (their winter resting places), are closed this year due to the pandemic. Dozens of people in the tiny town of Macheros are wholly dependent upon the income received by the work they do protecting the butterfly trees from illegal logging, as well as income from the tourist industry.  Ellen, Joel, and their team of arborists have come up with a wonderfully creative way to bring the butterflies to you. For a modest fee, you can sign up to “Adopt a Colony” to receive monthly newsletters and video tours of the Monarchs at Cerro Pelon. The newsletters are written by Ellen, who writes beautifully and clearly about the month-by-month current state of the butterflies in their winter habitat, as well as human interest stories drawn from the community. To subscribe to “Adopt a Colony” from Butterflies and Their People, go here.

We can be hopeful in 2021 that with a new administration, a much greater focus will be paid by our federal government to stop the spread of the virus in the US as well as around the globe. Not only is there hope in regard to the course correction needed to battle the pandemic, but the Biden/Harris administration has made climate change and environmental justice a cornerstone of their platform, including measures such as stopping the environmental madness taking place along our southern border and reversing many of the previous administration’s mandates that are so harmful to wildlife and their habitats.

Around the globe, especially in less developed countries, the pandemic has set back environmental initiatives by years, if not decades. We are so fortunate in Essex County  to have conservation organizations such as Greenbelt, MassWildlife, The Trustees, and Mass Audubon; organizations that protect the sanctity of wildlife and recognize the importance of protecting habitats not only for wildlife but equally as important, for the health and safety of human inhabitants.

The following are just some of the local images and stories that make us deeply appreciate the beauty of wildlife and their habitats found on Cape Ann and all around Essex County. Each picture is only a brief window into the elusive, complex life of a creature. Every day and every encounter brings so much more to observe, to learn, to enjoy, and to love.

To read more, each image and story from the past year is Google searchable. Type in the name of the creature and my name and the link to the story and pictures posted on my website should come right up.

Some Beautiful Raptors of 2020 – Red-tailed Hawk, Short-eared Owl, American Bald Eagle, Cooper’s Hawk, Merlin, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Osprey, and Snowy Owls


Essex County Greenbelt’s Osprey pair, Annie and Squam, successfully fledged three chicks, Vivi, Rusty, and Liz (nestling photo courtesy ECGA)

Dave Rimmer video from the Osprey cam at Lobstaland

The Snowy Owl Film Project was completed in March, with the objective of providing pandemic- virtually schooled kids a window into the world of Snowy Owls in their winter habitat (see all five short films here).


Spunky Mute Swan Cygnets

Utterly captivated by the winsome Red Fox Family

A tiny sampling of the beautiful songbirds that graced our shores in 2020 – Cedar Waxwings, Baltimore Orioles, Catbirds, American Robins, Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows, Snow Buntings, American Pipits, Horned Larks, and Eastern Bluebirds