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Friday, December 9, 2011

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

On Valentine's Day 1985, biologist Stacey O'Brien first met a four-day-old baby barn owl -- a fateful encounter that would turn into an astonishing 19-year saga. With nerve damage in one wing, the owlet's ability to fly was forever compromised, and he had no hope of surviving on his own in the wild. O'Brien, a young assistant in the owl laboratory at Caltech, was immediately smitten, promising to care for the helpless owlet and give him a permanent home. Wesley the Owl is the funny, poignant story of their dramatic two decades together.
With both a tender heart and a scientist's eye, O'Brien studied Wesley's strange habits intensively and first-hand -- and provided a mice-only diet that required her to buy the rodents in bulk (28,000 over the owl's lifetime). As Wesley grew, she snapped photos of him at every stage like any proud parent, recording his life from a helpless ball of fuzz to a playful, clumsy adolescent to a gorgeous, gold-and-white, macho adult owl with a heart-shaped face and an outsize personality that belied his 18-inch stature. Stacey and Wesley's bond deepened as she discovered Wesley's individual personality, subtle emotions, and playful nature that could also turn fiercely loyal and protective -- though she could have done without Wesley's driving away her would-be human suitors!
O'Brien also brings us inside the 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 animal they loved. As O'Brien gets close to Wesley, she makes important discoveries about owl behavior, intelligence, and communication, coining the term "The Way of the Owl" to describe his inclinations: he did not tolerate lies, held her to her promises, and provided unconditional love, though he was not beyond an occasional sulk. 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.
Enhanced by wonderful photos, Wesley the Owl is a thoroughly engaging, heartwarming, often funny story of a complex, emotional, non-human being capable of reason, play, and, most important, love and loyalty. It is sure to be cherished by animal lovers everywhere.
Summary taken from

So one day earlier this week I was lurking a friends bookshelf on Goodreads and I spotted this book. I was drawn immediately to the cover because honestly how can you NOT find the picture of young Wesley adorable. I must say he really was a handsome fellow and Stacey O'Brien was a lucky girl indeed.

Now I'm not normally one to read animal stories mostly because they usually end in the animal dying. But I am NOT I repeat NOT against them. I have enjoyed the couple that I have read and I hope to be reading more books like this one in the near future.

Right off the bat I knew that I would come to love this book, the author Stacey O'Brien wrote it beautifully and with heart. She had the rare ability to make a book like this come alive while I was reading it and it was almost as if I were in the room with her and Wesley.

Reading about Wesley's antics was hilarious and I found myself laughing rather loudly when he decided that Stacey was no longer his mother but his mate and proceeded to mate with her arm and attempted to feed her dead mice while she was sleeping as well as making nests for her. Honestly what more could a gal want? He even did a stand up job protecting her from other people who came into their "territory" (Her room).

What I loved most about this book is that you could feel the love Stacey and Wesley shared emanating off of every page. The book was so good that I finished it in a few short hours. I commend Stacey on her efforts and I hope that her, her grandma and both of their owls get a chance to hang out one day.  As for the ending I did have a tear but had to curb my impulse to cry since I was finishing the book on the bus to school this morning.

I recommend this to everyone. It's one of the best books I've read this year and I guarantee you will never look at owls the same ever again and maybe it can encourage people to have their say and help the efforts to end the way owls are treated now.

 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


  1. I was drawn to this book for a couple of reasons.

    1. I LOVE owls; and 2. I have a friend raising an owl. She rescued him when he was 2 days old.

    Wesley was a great story, and how fortunate Stacey was to have him in her life!

  2. I avoid animal stories for the same reason as you. They usually end sad. It took me a long time to get over Marley! Even though this ending brought a tear to your eye, it does sound good. Great review!

  3. you have a great blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?



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