Monday, October 15, 2012


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

Author: Stacey O’Brien

Published: 2008 (Free Press)

Pages: 224


The actual story is more in-depth than this. This lady took in an injured baby barn owl and raised it and they become best friends for fifteen years. I’m so glad the author’s a biologist who jokes about owl shit and frets about getting enough live mice to kill for the owl and reluctantly records the owl’s mating screeches while the owl makes it with her arm. For science!

Her science knowledge makes a squishy adorable animal story more authentic and enthusiastic with facts and not sentiment. Although there’s plenty of both, the loving bits are much more believable when she’s so unflinching about how much hard work this is.

There are a few human details that she skims over—when she starts talking about her career and how she got into biology, she’s got a random paragraph about how she and her sister were famous child actors who were also a family singing group, which—what? When? How did this happen with such normal-sounding parents? How did that segue into biology and owl love and, later, ultimately a career in UNIVAC computers?

She presents just enough despair over her dating life to hint at loneliness that is both helped and hurt by her owl, but there’s not enough details to know why she was so in love with this one dude that it put her in a deep depression when it didn’t work out or why it didn’t work out with this other guy who seemed to mesh really well with her owl life.

I imagine that’s just to keep the focus on the owl and to keep the book from becoming the author’s autobiography. She’s got a refreshing straightforward style that doesn’t allow for human nuance but does really well to endear the owl and his growing personality to the reader through a biological understanding that goes into the whole essence of sharing a life with a loved one.

Also, did you know that owls aren’t water birds? They don’t generally go near it because they get all the moisture they need from the mice they swallow whole, and their flying feathers don’t dry as fast or as well as other birds. This owl didn’t know that. He loved playing in the water, and how she eventually managed to blow-dry him is a highlight of face-meltingly cute pet rearing.

Did I mention there are pictures, you guys? THERE ARE AND THEY ARE AWESOME. Sadly, I must return this book to the library. 

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