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

Stacey O'Brien

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 1416551778

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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.

Enhanced by wonderful photographs, 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. Translated into eight languages and named an Audubon Magazine Editor’s Choice, Wesley the Owl is sure to be cherished by animal lovers everywhere.

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What a close call. “Well, that seems like a stupid threat display,” I mumbled, embarrassed at my ignorance. “The owl can’t even see the object of his concern, so how could he be threatening it? And who on earth could possibly interpret anything that ridiculous-looking to be a threat?” Dr. Penfield just blinked. It’s not clear if other animals recognize this behavior as a threat. To say the least, it’s downright strange, which might be enough to scare off another animal; but perhaps it’s

they’ll eat the rest. Wesley would toss whatever mouse parts he didn’t want to eat off the ledge of his perch. Of course, this mess o’ mice might land anywhere in my room, bed, or even on me. Wesley always hated eating the intestinal tract, and when he was a baby I’d disguise the guts by wrapping them in fur with some liver sticking out to fool him into swallowing them. He needed to eat the whole mouse in order to stay healthy, although I probably worried too much about it. Owl mothers don’t try

hall. I was so uncomfortable in those confining clothes with my hair pinned every which way. As I stepped back into my room, Wesley saw me, screamed, and ballooned out into a full threat display. “What? What? Wesley, what are you doing?” I said. Then he attacked. I leapt backward and ducked. He feinted away from me, flew across the room, and landed. He stared at me, gyrating his head around and around, and forward and back. In times of extreme emotion he had a double stomp with one foot:

the mice and powered them down. Then he gestured for the bag and I handed it to him. The rest of the kids started throwing the mice that were lying around on the concrete. “Gross! Wow! Get that one! Get that one, Mike! Yeah! Got it! All right!” They gave each other high fives every time a mouse was on target. Then they’d watch the baby owl devour it. “Look at that guy eat that thing! He’s eating it whole. That’s rad, man. Cool!” “Dude, I’ve never seen real owls before. Do they only eat mice?”

life. One afternoon I took some Advil and went shopping for groceries. I loaded the car, sat down in the driver seat, and passed out. I lay there for over eight hours. People in the parking lot eventually noticed I was unconscious and banged on the driver’s door. Unable to rouse me, they finally called the police and told them that someone had died in an SUV at the grocery store. The paramedics broke into my truck and pulled me out. They put me into an ambulance, started IVs, and revived me, but

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