Book Review: Wesley the Owl

It is no mystery that I love owls.  I have blogged about my fascination before.  So, when I came across Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien, in the bookstore, I knew I had to read it!

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

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

O’Brien tells the story of how she worked as a young adult for Caltech, caring for raptors in their research program.  As a biology graduate, she was learning a lot and loving her work.  Then one day, she was given the opportunity to adopt a baby barn owl with an injured wing that could never be released into the wild.  She knew that if she chose to accept him, she would be making a commitment for his entire life.  Owls will bond with one person, and will be committed to that person forever.  She didn’t know at the time that it would be a journey that would last 19 years.

Along the way, she learned a ton about barn owls and their habits, and provided information on Wesley to the other researchers.  She grew up with him, documenting his journey from a fluffy fuzzball baby, through his clumsy adolescent phase, and his remarkably long adult life, especially given barn owls in the wild live on average about four years.

O’Brien also developed a bond with Wesley that had never been documented before between an owl and a human; she became his “mate.”  Her descriptions of how Wesley tried to woo her, building nests under the toilet and calling her to them, and his extreme jealously when she interacted with men is surprising and hilarious.

O’Brien’s book is very informative, providing a wealth of information about owls and their behavior in the wild, as well as how they react in captivity.  She candidly and honestly relates that joys that came from raising a wild animal, as well as the struggles that came from sacrificing human relationships in order to put Wesley first.

Her writing style is descriptive and detailed; you can imagine his movements, his antics and his calls while reading her words.  It is a book that will be appreciated not just by those who like owls, but by all animal lovers.  Like any true love story, their relationship comes to the inevitable, sad, end, but not without imparting the reader with a sense of how much she truly loved this remarkable bird.

Have you read Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl?  What did you think?


11 thoughts on “Book Review: Wesley the Owl

      • I too knew I would cry; it took a lot of tissues to bring me through. When I get to see the owls at the farm where I have been interning I am always in awe, they are magnificent.

      • I would love that! We had a Great Horned Owl that nested in a tree outside of our office building a few years ago. I never saw him myself, but my coworker got a fantastic picture. And as for the tissues; that was totally me! I couldn’t sleep the night I finished the book (had a lot going on at work), so I was reading at about 3:30 in the morning, in a hotel room, blubbering. Oh my, that must have been quite a sight!

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