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In the mind of a clever predator

AS A YOUNG BOY, Andrew Manske spent hours scanning the skies for the flash of a falcon or the swoop of a hawk. As soon as he spotted one, he quickly sketched its fleeting outline.

Manske eventually traded his pencil for a video camera, and while others his age were shooting garage-band music videos, the teenager was outside capturing birds of prey on film. It would become his life’s work.

Now an experienced wildlife filmmaker, Manske has spent seven years travelling across North America to film the feathered predators that seized his imagination as a child. His most recent project has him exploring the life of owls for a documentary in the “CG Presents” series on Discovery Channel Canada.

“We want to put the camera in an owl’s head,” says Manske. “We want to give the audience a chance to see what it’s like to be an owl.”

Getting into the mind of an owl while carrying a bulky camera is no easy task. Manske spent several weeks hoisted 12 metres up a tree and hidden in a blind a stone’s toss from a nesting pair of great grey owls. Sitting silently through the evening, he captured such moments as the male returning with the day’s catch and the female gently tending her two fluffy owlets.

Manske has also ventured into the boreal forest north of Edmonton to film barred owls, hawk owls, snowy owls and the pop can-sized saw-whet owl. Using high-speed film, he has collected stunning footage of razor-sharp talons snatching unsuspecting prey and the graceful fold of wings as an owl torpedoes through the canopy.

Manske’s hour-long documentary will be one of eight broadcast early next year.

- Michael Bhardwaj

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