Wesley the Owl

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His GirlWesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this very touching story of a woman’s experience raising a barn owl and living with it for nineteen years. Their bond was something very special. The book apparently has “wonderful photos” which I will have to seek out. The audiobook was narrated by Renee Raudman and I have to say she did a great job with Wesley’s vocalizations! I laughed out loud at some of her tales. Not for the faint of heart – there are mouse guts galore – and I will never forget her description of testicle soup – how scientists do research on human fertility. I read this because I love animal stories, but also because I consider the owl to be my own personal inner totem. I think her philosophical comments about “The Way of the Owl” could equally apply to “owl” people like me.

Book description: On Valentine’s Day 1985, biologist Stacey O’Brien adopted Wesley, a baby barn owl with an injured wing who could not have survived in the wild. Over the next nineteen years, O’Brien studied Wesley’s strange habits with both a tender heart and a scientist’s eye—and provided a mice-only diet that required her to buy the rodents in bulk (28,000 over the owl’s lifetime). She watched him turn from a helpless fluff ball into an avid com­municator with whom she developed a language all their own. Eventually he became a gorgeous, gold-and-white macho adult with a heart-shaped face who preened in the mir­ror and objected to visits by any other males to “his” house. O’Brien also brings us inside Caltech’s prestigious research community, a kind of scientific Hogwarts where resident owls sometimes flew freely from office to office and eccentric, brilliant scientists were extraordinarily committed to studying and helping animals; all of them were changed by the animals they loved. As O’Brien gets close to Wesley, she makes astonishing discoveries about owl behavior, intelligence, and communication, coining the term “The Way of the Owl” to describe his noble behavior. When O’Brien develops her own life-threatening ill­ness, the biologist who saved the life of a helpless baby bird is herself rescued from death by the insistent love and courage of this wild animal.

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