Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl

by Stacey O'Brien


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416551775
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 06/02/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 79,712
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 1090L (what's this?)

About the Author

Stacey O’Brien is trained as a biologist specializing in wild animal behavior. She graduated from Occidental College with a B.S. in Biology and continued her education at Caltech. She lives in southern California.

Read an Excerpt

Wesley the Owl

  • ON A RAINY Valentine’s Day morning in 1985, I fell in love with a four-day-old barn owl. I’d been working at Caltech (California Institute of Technology) for about a year when one of the scientists called me into his office. He mentioned that there was an owl with an injured wing, and said, “Stacey, he needs a permanent home.”

    The little owl was so tiny and helpless he couldn’t even lift his head or keep himself warm. His eyes weren’t open yet, and except for a tuft of white down feathers on his head and three rows of fluff along his back, his body was pink and naked. I was smitten beyond reason by his hopelessly goofy appearance. He was the most wonderful creature I’d ever seen, gorgeous in his helplessness. And, oh, was he uncoordinated. His long, lanky legs stuck out awkwardly, and his oversized talons erratically scratched anyone who held him. His scrawny body had two little nubs that would eventually become wings, and his ungainly pterodactyl-like head wobbled from side to side. It seemed as if he had been assembled from the flotsam and jetsam of many different creatures.

    Wesley at four or five days old. Stacey O’Brien

    Under normal circumstances, a rehabilitation center would have raised him using owl puppets to feed him and teach him to live in the wild, which is how biologists have raised endangered birds like sandhill cranes and the California condor that they intend to release. But this baby had nerve damage in one wing, so although he might one day be able to fly well enough to hunt sporadically, his wing could never build up to the level of endurance he would need to survive in the wild.

    Like all barn owls, the baby smelled like maple syrup but not as sweet, something closer to butterscotch and comfy pillow all in one. Many biologists at Caltech, where I both worked and took classes, would bury their faces in their owls’ necks to breathe in their delicate, sweet scent. It was intoxicating.

    Scientists from all over the world were on our barn owl research team. There are seventeen species in the barn owl family and they live on every continent except Antarctica, but the ones we worked with were all Tyto alba, the only species that lives in North America. Found from British Columbia across North America through the northeastern and southern United States, as well as in parts of South America and the Old World, barn owls are raven-sized birds, about 18 inches from head to tail. They weigh only about one pound full grown, but their wingspan is magnificent—averaging three feet, eight inches—almost four feet across. And barn owls are strikingly beautiful; their feathers are largely golden and white and their faces a startling white heart shape.

    As gorgeous as they are, it is the owls’ personalities that invariably capture the hearts of the people who work with them. All of the Caltech scientists grew intimately attached to their birds. One big, strapping scientist worked with an owl that got loose, flew into the ventilation system of the building, and there somehow hurt his foot. Owls are very sensitive and easily stressed. Even though the injury was minor and the owl was taken care of right away and not in any pain, he just turned his head to the side and wouldn’t look at anyone or eat. Within a day, the owl died. The incident had so upset him that he turned his head away from life, and there was nothing any of us could do to coax him back. After he died, the big tough scientist sobbed and cradled the owl’s body in his arms. Then he took a short leave of absence. That’s how much the owls would work their way into our hearts.

    This tragic behavior wasn’t unusual for owls, who are emotionally delicate, even in the wild. For example, owls mate for life, and when an owl’s mate dies, he doesn’t necessarily go out and find another partner. Instead, he might turn his head to face the tree on which he’s sitting and stare fixedly in a deep depression until he dies. Such profound grief is indicative of how passionately owls can feel and how devoted they are to their mates.

    This is the Way of the Owl.


    I LEARNED MY own passionate love of animals from my dad, who worked at Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL), one of Caltech’s labs, for as long as I can remember. He would take my sister, Gloria, and me on many adventures to the ocean and into the Angeles Crest National Forest, which bordered our house. He taught us to observe animals without disturbing them, and every encounter was like a breathtaking meeting with an intelligent life form from another world, so different yet so familiar. I realized that each creature had its own personality. It was as rewarding for me to win an animal’s trust as it would be for a space scientist to converse with an alien.

    I learned to lure octopi out of their secret places by holding my hand very still, near shallow ocean rocks where they would hide. Because they are so curious, they’d eventually slide their tentacles toward me, gingerly explore my hands, then they’d gain confidence and end up crawling all over me. Gloria and I always tried to save baby birds we found, and we’d intervene to rescue lizards from cats. Once when I was four, my mother absentmindedly flicked a spider off a wall and flushed it down the toilet. I screamed and then cried for the rest of the day, because to me the spider was an innocent being who had hurt no one, and her life had been destroyed for no reason. My mother was flabbergasted by my extreme reaction and tried to reason with me, but even today I agonize about how casually our fellow creatures can be killed.

    I also had an affinity for a more familiar, “traditional” animal. My first close bond, aside from my parents, was with our dog, Ludwig—half collie, half German shepherd. Luddie guarded my crib, lying under it while I slept and padding out to get my mother when I woke up. He always watched over me as I started to crawl and, when I began to learn to walk, would let me grab his tummy hair to pull myself up. I’d put my arms over his back, holding on to his fur, and he would walk very slowly and carefully with me. Whenever I started to fall, he went down, too, to cushion my landing. He taught me to walk, and I can still remember his soft, patient brown eyes looking back at me as we toddled along. I think Luddie’s companionship lay the groundwork for my other relationships with animals, and I’m grateful that my mother had the wisdom to teach me to love and trust Luddie.

    In addition to my love of furry, many-legged, complex animals, when I was a kid my bedroom was also filled with “experiments”—things in jars and vats of stagnant water full of exotic life forms that I could examine under my microscope. I once had two hundred silkworms in my room, which then hatched into two hundred mating moths that I would have to brush out of my bed at night before retiring. As a child I definitely had to clean my own room—and was instructed to use disinfectant. No one else would venture in there.

    As I grew older, my father began taking my sister Gloria and me to lectures at Caltech, where I first saw my childhood hero, Jane Goodall. I was so convinced that I would grow up to do exactly what she did in Africa that I insisted on Swahili lessons. The next time she lectured at Caltech, I met her and tried out my newly learned language. I wonder if she remembers a little girl in blond braids who spoke Swahili.

    Gloria and I were child actors who sang professionally in Hollywood recording studios into our twenties. We started singing onstage with our family band when I was five and she was three, and because we could sight-sing (read music and sing it without needing someone to teach it to us), a year later were doing TV commercials, movie scores, and singing background on albums. You probably heard us through the 1970s in campaigns for McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, Little Friskies, ice creams, Bekins Moving and Storage, California Raisins, and more than a hundred other commercials. Gloria and I also sang backup for Glen Campbell, Barry Manilow, Helen Reddy, the Carpenters, and John Denver, among others, as well as in the second and fourth Rocky movies, The Exorcist II: The Heretic, and a bunch of Disney movies. Music definitely runs in our family. My grandfather was a drummer in the big-band era, and my dad’s brother is Cubby O’Brien of the original Mouseketeers. Even so, because of my fascination with science and love for animals, it was more natural that I would go on to earn a degree in biology, which I did in 1985, at Occidental College—a sister school to Caltech, which had very few women at that time. Students at Occidental could enroll in any Caltech classes, and vice versa, which enabled both schools to broaden their curricula. I preferred the atmosphere at Caltech, though, so I took classes there, which also led to an undergrad, part-time job working with primates at their Institute of Behavioral Biology.

    Eventually, I was offered another position in a department that studied owls. After monkeys, who were practically human, I was afraid that working with owls might be boring. Back then I ignorantly thought, as many people do, that they were “just birds.” They seemed aloof, and I knew little about them beyond the fact that they flew around at night. How interesting could that be? The only owls I had ever been around were in my grandmother’s massive owl figurine collection, and I figured real owls were probably not too different. But the owl job was full-time and I really needed the money. Plus it offered opportunity to participate in research. It was a plum position for a young biologist because I could learn so much from those around me.

    I accepted the owl job, and within six months grew to love these emotional, sassy little creatures as much as did the distinguished scientists who had been working with them for years.


    “STACEY,” said Dr. Ronan Penfield, one of the scientists, “the zoos and other institutions are overwhelmed with owls that can’t go back to the wild, and this owlet needs placement. Taking him home would be a perfect opportunity for you to do a long-term, deeper study of an owl on a level that’s just not possible in a purely academic setting.”

    “You mean I should adopt him?”

    “That’s exactly what I mean. Since his eyes are still closed, he will imprint on you if you take him right away, and you could make observations, record his sounds and behaviors…”

    I was both thrilled and terrified by this opportunity—scared by the enormous responsibility I would assume for this young life. I stared at Dr. Penfield to see if he was serious.

    “…you may discover some things up close that we have not observed from a distance. I think this would be a beneficial study for our overall understanding of barn owls. You could keep us informed of your findings all along.”

    In spite of my fears, I wanted to leap across the desk, grab him by the shoulders, and shout, “Yes, I’ll do it!” Instead I took a deep breath and tried to sound professional.

    “I’ll need to make some arrangements, but I would love to take him.”

    I was about to live with and raise one of the most beautiful animals on earth. Barn owls are quite different from all other owls. They are in a completely separate family called Tytonidae, while all other owls of the world are in the family Strigidae, meaning “typical owls.” I was fascinated by all owls, but to have the chance to get to know the only representative of the nontypical owls that exist on the North American continent was very exciting.

    The first bird, Archaeopteryx, began to appear in the fossil record during the Upper Jurassic period, around 155–150 million years ago. It had some dinosaur-like characteristics but was still clearly a bird. From then on, birds diverged, and owls would appear much later. My owlet was a bit of living history.

    It’s estimated that barn owls first started to appear in the fossil record during the Paleocene age (57.8–65 million years ago). The modern barn owl, Tyto, appeared around the middle of the Miocene period (5.3–23.7 million years ago) and diversified into various species during the Pliocene (1.6–5.3 million years ago) and Pleistocene (0.01–1.6 million years ago) periods. Wesley’s species, Tyto alba, started showing up in the fossil record during the Pleistocene. Although owls are sometimes included in discussions of raptors, the truth is they are thought to be more closely related to nightjars than to diurnal (daytime) birds of prey (Falconiformes). Nightjars, which include whippoorwills, actually look like some kind of missing link between a regular bird and an owl.

    Before I worked with owls I had never even heard of nightjars, and I used to skip over the parts of books that discussed how many millions of years ago an animal appeared on the world stage. But once I had my owl, this information became fascinating to me. His “tribe” had been here, probably living very close to where we were at that moment, for some 1.6 million years. What really blew my mind was that, in all that time, every single one of his ancestors had successfully bred and had a baby survive to breed. For 1.6 million years. There wasn’t a single break in the chain, or he wouldn’t have been here. Of course, this is true for every one of us who is on the planet—which seems like an incredible miracle.

    Some scientists think birds may have evolved from dinosaurs, and to look at my owlet’s feet and beak, especially before he had feathers, it sure seemed possible. Recent fossil discoveries suggest that some dinosaurs were warm blooded, had feathers, and kept their babies in nests, feeding and caring for them just like the parents of birds do now.

    Another attribute that makes owls unique is their brain structure, which is completely different from that of most vertebrates. The barn owl’s cortex is mostly dedicated to processing sound rather than visual images. I wondered how that would affect the way the owl interacted with me and my visually oriented domestic world. He must have a very different viewpoint, foreign to us. His world would be even more different from, say, a dog’s, because dogs process their sensory information primarily through their noses and eyes. Dogs are mammals and social, so we humans and they have learned how to get along and live with each other over millennia. Some scientists even think that dogs and people helped each other evolve to our current forms. But it would be challenging to learn to live with this nonsocial animal. Owls don’t stay in flocks, but individuals are devoted to their mates, living a mostly solitary life together.

    Not only are owls interesting creatures historically and physiologically, but their temperament is also unique. Owls are playful and inquisitive. A friend of mine knew someone who had rescued a little screech owl and she described it as acting like a kitten with wings. She said the owl would fly up, then pounce on all kinds of objects exactly as a kitten does. Owls could also be creative. Sometimes I’d be walking by an office in the Caltech Owl Lab and see an owl making up his own game—throwing a pencil off a desk just to watch it fall and roll on the floor, then flying off the desk himself, twisting in the air to get a good angle, then pouncing on the pencil. I also saw postdocs talking nose-to-beak with their owls when they thought no one was looking; rubbing noses, kissing, and playing little games. They seemed to enjoy each other’s company in the same way that dogs and people do. Could my owl and I develop such a great rapport? I wanted to find out. After all, this curiosity and desire to experience animals and learn from them directly is what drives a person to become a biologist or naturalist in the first place, much as the space scientist is driven to find out what’s on that next planet or in that new star system. Perhaps this was finally my chance to get to know a wild animal in the way I had always dreamed of as a child. I wouldn’t be traveling thousands of miles and bushwhacking into the jungles of Africa or the Amazon to find my special animal. My owlet was coming to me.

  • Table of Contents

    1 The Way of the Owl

    2 To That Which You Tame, You Owe Your Life

    3 Owl Infancy

    4 Barn Owl Toddler: Love Me, Love My Owl

    5 Flying Lessons

    6 Attack Kitten on Wings

    7 Love to Eat Them Mousies

    8 Understanding Each Other: Sound and Body Language

    9 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    10 A Day in the Life of a Biologist

    11 Owls Are Not Waterbirds

    12 Deep Bonds

    13 The Sex Tapes

    14 Fifteen Years of Trust

    15 Twilight: He Whom I Tamed Saves My Life

    16 The End

    17 After


    What People are Saying About This

    From the Publisher

    "Heartwarming.... This memoir will captivate animal lovers." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review

    Customer Reviews

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    Wesley the Owl 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 150 reviews.
    amygirl More than 1 year ago
    I have always been very fond of animals. I picked up this book after reading about it here on B&N. I am so glad I did! This book was a fantastic combination of all sorts of things. Here are some words that come to mind as I attempt to describe this book: memoir, touching, inspiring, science, history, education, comical, thought-provoking, spiritual, sad, a love story. You will laugh and cry and get grossed out and feel so many different emotions and learn about relationships and animals all at the same time. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend reading it.
    DiBowers More than 1 year ago
    My daughter bought this book for me and my first thought was, "Uh-oh... she is giving me another animal story that will just make me feel sad." So I put off reading it for a while. Finally I picked it up, and then I could not stop reading. I do love animals and have cared for many. But this book was not sad until the very end when, of course, Wesley had lived a very long and happy life and it was time for him to go. Wesley lasted 19 years, which is longer than any owl in captivity. First, I could not believe that Stacy ended up giving 19 years of life to make her owl her priority. Wesley demanded that of her and she gave her time and life with him willingly. In the process, she had the most unique experiences. In Wesley's eyes and heart, she became his owl girlfriend as well as his mother and caregiver. I could not believe how much the two were able to communicate. It's just amazing to discover the owl's thought process. His antics do make you laugh. I don't read books more than once, but I may make an exception for this one. It was the most unique, enchanting, enlightening and loving story about a girl and her owl. I keep telling all my friends and family members about Wesley because I just can't help it!
    Nonna_at_Sharon More than 1 year ago
    An absorbing book, I have recommended it to many friends. Not only is the story fascinating, but the reader learns so much about Owls and animal research.
    The_BibliophileJM More than 1 year ago
    I have been waiting centuries for a book this good to fall into my hands! This is the perfect book for any and all animal lovers. I learned so much from this book about owls that I never knew, and now that I have this knowledge, I love owls even more than I already did, and I have a whole new respect for them. I have to admit, I questioned this book for a long time when I saw it at the store. I saw it many times over the course of the year but just couldn't bring myself to buy it for fear that a biologist would write in boring drones. I can't tell you how glad I am that I finally took the plunge and bought this book. Stacey goes WAY above and beyond my expectations in this book with her writng skills and her ability to connect to her audiance. If yu are looking for an easy, interesting, touching, and refreshing read, your best bet is to go and buy Wesley The Owl.
    FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
    I never really thought much about barn owls. I assumed that, like other wild birds, they flew around, ate mice, and hung around in barns. Surely they weren't very intelligent. My understanding of these beautiful birds completely changed when I read Wesley the Owl. In this amazing story, author Stacey O'Brien describes the 19 years that Wesley lived with her. The remarkable owl came into O'Brien's life at the tender age of four days. O'Brien, a biologist, was working in the owl research lab at CalTech when her supervisor asked if she'd be willing to adopt a fledgling (baby) barn owl with an injured wing. Fortunately, O'Brien had experience with owls and had the full support and assistance of others working at CalTech. Raising an owl is a lot of work! O'Brien recounts Wesley's infancy, adolescence and adulthood, all the while inserting sweet stories of how the two, human and owl, bonded over time. At first, Wesley treated O'Brien as his mother and was friendly to others, including the household dog. But as he grew, the handsome owl began to see O'Brien as his mate and challenged all others. O'Brien also includes mention of her early attempts at securing a steady supply of mice, dealing with the unpleasant necessities of prepping said mice for Wesley and reactions of others to her unusual housemate (including short lived boyfriends who couldn't get over the strange demands Wesley made of O'Brien). The author inserts just enough background information on barn owls to be interesting without lulling the reader to sleep. Facts on these birds are spread out between the various chapters and include tidbits such as a barn owl's ability to find a mouse under three feet of snow by listening to its heartbeat. Other facts, such as barn owls dislike of water is disproven by Wesley who developed a deep love of the bathtub. Well-written, engaging, and entertaining, this book is sure to be enjoyed by animal lovers. Quill says: A fascinating and touching story about a young scientist and her owl.
    Bookworm622LG More than 1 year ago
    I was scanning the book shelves in the Science section for no particular reason when my eyes settled on "Wesley The Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl And His Girl." I picked it up and and began to read. Twenty-three minutes later I pulled my nose out of the book with the full realization that this was one I had to buy - in hard back! The author carries the reader along as she relives for you the complex and intimate relationship she and Wesley build over his lifetime. In the course she educates the reader about the barn owl and owls in general. The scientific/biological information is very good and presented in an intersting manner, but I found myself in tears laughing as I read about Wesley's antics and then in sorrow as I read about his death. The author's writing style tends to wander in a couple of spots, but this just was a book I couldn't and didn't want to put down. I just wish she'd write a children's version of this story. There are many things in it that young readers would enjoy learning about this marvelous creature. I highly recommend this book.
    sofihuasteca More than 1 year ago
    "A love story about a girl and her owl" Every biologists dream, college biology student Stacey O' Brian is offered an unbelievable volunteer job, the once in a lifetime chance to "adopt" and care for a new born baby barn owl in her home. A wonderful true story and flied with comical anecdotes that is bound to keep anyone entertained. Scientists and non-scientists alike will rave about this book. This book is truly moving. It is a drama, a love story, an informative text, it is just about everything. It made me cry tears of sadness, and of joy. It helped me open my eyes about the capacities of nonhuman species, especially birds, I never though there were. I never imagined the amazing traits owls could have. This book actually changed the course of my life, I will now study birds along with mammals. The way Stacey describes the antics of her feathered friend, both scientifically and motherly. Her attachment to "her" owl also sets this book apart from others. She speaks in a scientific manor, but also reminds us that animals are our fellow beings and not just subjects. Stacey tells a great story, and keeps you captivated because of her crafty way of telling it. You actually learn from this book and have a story to follow as well, keeping it fun. A story behind a story, tidbits of Stacey's personal life weaved in with the Wesley's hilarious antics. Animal behavior and storytelling come together. 19 years of memories and scientific notes with Wesley the barn owl. I really love this book. An amazing, fantastic, highly recommendable book!
    Penny70CO More than 1 year ago
    Read it ONLY with a strong stomach. I thought it would be a 'cute' story about this little owl that Stacey saved but it was far from that. I finally had to stop reading it when she described in detail, how Wesley masturbated on her arm regularly and how the man in her department had worms inside his body noticably crawling around under his skin in the name of research!

    I'm 70 years old and have done a lot of reading in my life - I even grew up in a Cemetery so can handle 'gross' - but this was way out of my realm of enjoyment.
    pinkrose More than 1 year ago
    Wesley The Owl is a phenominal book! The author combines scientific information on barn owls, while telling a about her eighteen year love story with her remarkable pet-Wesley the owl. You will laugh out loud, learn, (more than you want to know about mice!)and even cry at times. I cannot say enough about the authors love and devotion for Wesley, who gave her copious amounts of owl-love in return. He is so intelligent, with an emotional range that defies the preconceived notions we have about animals. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all animal lovers. You will feel better about after having read it, and it will put a smile on your face many many times.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    In this book, Stacey O'Brien tells an extraordinary story of her owl, Welsey. It is an unforgettable that captures the readers attention. Welsey shows love, compatiblity, and the way of the owl. I counld not stop reading this warm hearting book. It truley is a remarkable love story of an owl and his girl.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    As a devoted follower on live streaming video of an owl box on UStream.com, I learned about this book from fellow chatters. This book will surprise you! While it is filled with scientific info about barn owls, the real story here is the loving relationship between the author and the barn owl she raised in her home. This is a love story-there's no other way to describe it. You will laugh and ultimately, you will cry. The writing is competent;perhaps not the best but still very readable. I am an avid reader and found I couldn't put this book down. Take the journey with Stacey and her owl Wesley. I promise that you won't regret it!
    flygirlAC More than 1 year ago
    Owls are my favorite animal, so I was drawn to Wesley, but I would recommend it to people who just like animals in general. The writing is pretty decent, even though O'Brien isn't a writer-per se. It was a nice light read with some great stories to tell.
    Iloveagoodbook More than 1 year ago
    Wow. I saw this book and thought, this is gonna be good. And it was. I love animals. Thats why I've decided to be a zookeeper. Reading this book showed me that animals have this connection with people, that most poeple dont have with other humans. You can turn a bird of prey, into a bird of love, just by loving and caring for it. You can bond with an animal you normally wouldnt bond with just by talking to it and showing affection. It was a wonderful story. Sad at the end, but knowing the life Wesley had was a good one made it a happier ending.
    B-2 More than 1 year ago
    The book is a story of a live-in barn owl told in a way the people would tell the story of their beloved dog or cat. It certainly will teach you a lot about owls .... also about the author herself. The book is written in a warm and sincere way, and my children ( ages 6 and 8) enjoyed many of the passages describing Wesley's adventures. In my opinion, it's only (forgivable) sin is - sometimes- author's understandable slips into some "anthropomorphization" of her friend. I grade the books as Buy and Keep (BK), Read Library book and Return ( RLR) and Once I Put it Down I Couldn't Pick it Up ( OIPD-ICPU). This one is at least RLR and for me it was BK.
    JessZ More than 1 year ago
    As a raptor rehabilitation volunteer, I was looking for books on raptors and happened across this gem. "Wesley the Owl" is for every animal lover who has known that, deep inside, there is often as much wisdom as love bestowed upon us by our companions and it's not until the end that we realize how much better we are because of their presence. I laughed out loud, was amazed and bewildered by the antics of a barn owl, and cried in the end (it is a true story afterall, so there has to be a bittersweet end). I have had the blessing of knowing such magical creatures as owls and Wesley is one I feel like I know intimately thanks to Stacey O'Brien.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I received this as a gift late on December 30th and had completed the entire book by mid day on the January 1st. It is easy to read and follow and I love that Stacey is not only compassionate about animals but also a biologist (I too am a biologist) and therefore her facts and statements about owls are very trustworthy. While many may yearn for their own chance to share their lives with a magnificent bird of prey, Stacey keeps those feelings in check by outlining the remarkable amount of responsibility it was to raise such a pet. Wesley's personality and antics will definitely keep you hooked.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I laughed out loud during some of the sections of this book. It is such a lovely story. It shows that owls and other creatures have emotions and feelings just like we do. I never wanted this book to end.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Wesley the Owl, The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl is a heartfelt memoir about a young scientist, Stacey O¿Brien and the four-day-old barn owl she adopts and spends almost 20 years with. Wesley teaches Stacey ¿The Way of the Owl¿, which is how Stacey describes his personality. Wesley couldn¿t tolerate lies, made sure she kept her promises and loved her unconditionally. The book is part biology text, with fascinating tidbits about owls, their habits and habitats, part humorous essay with stories delineating the differences between poop, sh*t and scat in scientist parlance, but mostly, all heart. Anyone who has ever loved an animal can tell you that they can communicate with us, something that science hasn¿t always agreed with. I loved the interaction between owl and human, and the depth that interaction had. The book doesn¿t make you want to rush right out and adopt an owl, thank goodness, since this isn¿t exactly legal anymore. But it makes you feel a deeper appreciation of the animals in your own lives. It brought back to me the endings of my much loved pets time with me, and made me dread the future when our sweet little Cookie mutt is old. Yet it also makes us aware of how much our animals enrich our lives. If we chose to share our lives with an animal, we have to understand that, with a few exceptions, we¿ll eventually lose them to age and death. But we do it anyway, we love our critters, dogs, cats, lizards, spiders, turtles, fish, snakes, birds, hamsters, rats, mice¿.all of them. If we can treat our ¿pets¿ as what they really are to us, loving companions with complex emotions, we¿ll all be better people for it. And if we could all live ¿The Way of the Owl¿, we¿d have a better world for it. This terrific book is available for purchase today, August 19th.
    dcoward on LibraryThing 26 days ago
    An excellent look at a woman's life with her pet owl. This book has a nice mix of science and more personal observations.
    mauveberry on LibraryThing 26 days ago
    I've always been fascinated with owls, and I really liked this book. It not only has funny stories about owls but also teaches the reader a lot of scientific information (not in a boring way). Be warned that the ending is sad though.
    bobbieharv on LibraryThing 26 days ago
    I loved this gem of a book. My only complaint is that I wanted to know more: more day-to-day stories about Wesley, more about her romantic relationships (and how he interfered with them!), more about why she had to move all the time. I understand why she limited the focus, and that probably made for a better book, but this just shows how much I enjoyed it.
    zanependers on LibraryThing 26 days ago
    This book will be enjoyed by bird and animal lovers. I needed some light reading, preferably about birds, and this was a perfect choice. You'll learn something about Barn Owls in the process.
    -Cee- on LibraryThing 26 days ago
    Stacey O'Brien adopted a 4 day old barn owl and raised it with the tenderness and joy of a mother. A biologist at CalTech, she knew about birds but was unaware of the deep affectionate acceptance she would experience with Wesley, her owl. This story details an unexpected relationship between owl and human over the course of Wesley's 19 years.Stacey joyfully writes about every nuance of behavior, antic and emotion that she and Wesley share. She teaches us what she calls (in her own words) "The Way of the Owl" with insights into owl perception and behavior. From Wesley's embarassment over missed landings to owl sex and lifetime mating, from owl hugs to recognizing himself in the mirror - there are no dull moments! You'll find lots of humor and fun in this book, e.g., Wesley's learning to fly and his adventures in the bathroom... "When I opened the door, I could hardly believe my eyes. I had accidently left the toilet lid open, and Wesley had jumped in. He was soaked to the skin, with little wet punk rock feather spikes sticking out everywhere. He looked up at me happily with one wing slung casually over the seat." ...and there is much more!You will undoubtedly enjoy this beautiful love story. One of Stacey's thoughts while looking back on Wesley's life and how it affected her own: "Wesley made me realize that if all I had to give was love, that was enough."Recommended to all animal lovers.
    jlsherman on LibraryThing 26 days ago
    Wonderful story about a how a baby owl became an intricate part of the life of the author. Lots of wonderful and funny stories about how one woman raised a wonderful creature.
    bblum on LibraryThing 26 days ago
    Would you sacrifice your life for bringing up a Barn Owl? It was fascinating to read and Iearned about owls but I am glad it was she and not me. Owl sex, feeding, bonding, ...amazing.