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The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar: Living with a Tawny Owl Hardcover – June 10, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The sweetly smiling older gent on this book’s jacket is seen inside in photos, too, but they depict a much-younger man, often with a little, stern owl perched on his shoulder. The tawny owl, Mumble, met her end too soon, and thus it took Windrow (The Last Valley, 2005) many years to put aside his sadness and pull together his notebooks and photos depicting their 15-year owl-man relationship, living together in England. Windrow has an endearing, entertaining voice, not without a sense of humor. He not only describes his relationship with the little owl (“love at first sight”) but also gives owl history, the species’ contemporary existence, precautions, and more. Windrow’s journal entries from the time are scattered throughout, and they reveal his careful attention to Mumble’s learning to “speak” and fly and adapt to her unusual life. Containing many photos as well as Christa Cook’s beautifully detailed sketches, this is a gentle, touching love story that will appeal to all pet owners, not just those fond of tawny owls, which Windrow describes as “something like cats that can fly.” --Eloise Kinney

Review

Anyone who thinks the bond between man and dog or cat is the supreme human-house pet attachment will have to reconsider after reading Martin Windrow's touching account of the bird who changed his life, a possessive and characterful tawny owl named Mumble who was his domestic companion for 15 action-packed years . . . [The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar is] a memoir of his friendship with this singular creature, interwoven with a natural history of her species and a close, not to say obsessive, description of her traits . . . [It] is all the more affecting because of its gruff understatement. (Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review)

Charming . . . an eloquent yet unsentimental testimonial about a man devoted to his "one true owl", and the profound impact that relationship with this bird had on his life. (The Guardian)

Unlikely books are often very endearing--this is one such book. An utterly charming work, perhaps best read at night when there are owls about. (Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series)

The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar is pure joy. Martin Windrow shows us the essence of a wild animal in a story as informative as a scientific paper on the species Strix aluco, but much more fun to read. Owls are among the world's most interesting creatures, and to see one up close and in detail as we do here is a valuable experience that will appeal to readers of every kind. (Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of A Million Years with You: A Memoir of Life Observed)

With a keen eye for the telling detail, Windrow has written an informative, tender and, yes, wise memoir on the blessed ties that bind people and their pets--one that should find a permanent perch on your shelf. (Jay Strafford, Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Funny, touching and divertingly novel . . . [Windrow] has produced an homage to both a creature and its species that is almost Leonardo-like in its precision and spirit of curiosity. The result is nothing less than a small masterpiece of animal literature . . . [A] perfect book. (Ben Downing, The Wall Street Journal)

"Charming . . . Mr. Windrow's owl fascination knows no bounds." (Carmela Ciuraru, The New York Times)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (June 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374228469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374228460
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
66%
4 star
27%
3 star
7%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 70 customer reviews
This is an entertaining as well as informative book.
Kathryn W. Miller
This is a wonderful account of life with a Tawny Owl named Mumble.
Joshua Senecal
This is a book to read and re-read, perhaps to read aloud.
Trudie Barreras

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Neal Reynolds VINE VOICE on April 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Martin Windrow shares his 15 years with Mumble, his pet tawny owl, with us. This memoir is loving and often witty, but it is tinged with an anger the author has carried for twenty years after Mumble's death.

I suspect that there will be controversy about this book on these pages. The idea of raising a wild creature as a pet stirs different emotions in different people. Regardless of a person's opinion, the author here does portray a long pet/owner relationship as a happy one for both concerned.

Actually, a larger part of the book gives details on owls, especially the tawny owl, so there is an academic tone here. It's the latter chapters that tell us more specifically about the life shared by Windrow and Mumble. All in all, this is a memorable book which animal lovers especially will enjoy. The author is given credit for his admonitions at the book's start against "rescuing" an abandoned owlet you might think "lost". On the other hand, he shares the joy one can have in properly raising a creature such as a tawny owl and establishing a pet relationship.

The book is nicely enhanced with a number of drawings and photographs. Some of the photoghs were a bit indistinct in the reviewer's copy, but may be much clearer in the published version.

I enthusiastically endorse this book for all readers who love animals.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lynnda Ell VINE VOICE on June 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Martin Windrow held my interest in the fascinating account of his life with a tawny owl. He writes well; his dry and witty voice suits his subject perfectly. Many times, I laughed aloud at his lively descriptions of the extra effort he used to provide a meaningful life to Mumbles. Nearly as often, I laughed at Mumbles's attempts to encourage Mr. Windrow into more owl-like behavior. Boredom kicked in - and my eyes began glazing over - when he began giving general information about owls. I'm glad I didn't skip those sections, however, because just about the time I lost interest, Mr. Windrow would tie the section into an amusing anecdote from his life with Mumbles. The book was, entertaining, informative, and meaningful. I especially recommend it to anyone who thinks they want to keep a wild bird or animal as a pet. As The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar, clearly describes, it is not a choice to be made lightly.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Akcloudwoman VINE VOICE on May 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a bird lover, and have owned and rehabbed birds so I had to read this story. It didn't disappoint and was thoroughly enjoyable! I loved the story and the way that the author interspersed educational tidbits and information about owls in the story. Having owned birds, it was fun to read about how the relationship and how routines developed between Martin (the author) and the owl. An out is not the type of pet you would expect to find in a downtown flat, and that made their adventures even more intriguing! This is a must read for anyone who has had a special relationship with a bird or other pet.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By B. McEwan VINE VOICE on June 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is both interesting and charming. it is well written by Martin Windrow, a historian who lived with a tawny owl in his London apartment back in the 1980s. For reasons he explains, Windrow became interested in birds of prey and decided he would like to have a tawny as a pet. While this was apparently acceptable 30 years ago, Windrow makes clear that is not today. Owls belong in the wild.

That said, Windrow's story of life with Mumble, a female tawny, sheds light on the habits of owls and entertains with stories about Mumble's quirks, one of which was sitting on the head of a bust of Julius Caesar that Windrow had in his apartment. Eventually, he moves with Mumble to the country, where she has a cage outdoors and is able to commune, albeit through the bars, with other owls. I was glad to know that at some point in her life Mumble had the opportunity to know that she was not entirely alone without others of her species.

Windrow comes to love Mumble is grieved when she dies, in much the same way that one grieves when our more conventional feline or canine pets pass. This too made me glad because it illustrates a bond between a human and a very different species. Our world could use more of this type of attachment.

Bottom line: If you like birds, nature and pet topics, you will enjoy this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Trudie Barreras VINE VOICE on May 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Martin Windrow's memoir of his fifteen years sharing his life with a Tawny Owl is delightful, informative and just plain fun. I admit I was drawn to this book specifically because I have spent the past two months being completely enthralled by the around-the-clock live video feed of a pair of eagles raising their eaglet, and I think that this clearly created a resonance with much of what Windrow discussed.

This narrative alternates personal vignettes of Martin's experiences with his friend Mumble and very useful informational sections about the behavior, physiology, and different categories of owls. Obviously, those who already know the "science" could skip these segments, but I found them fascinating indeed. Again, having been watching the development of the eaglet designated "B3" (the nest is situated on the campus of Berry College in Rome, Georgia), I found the parallels and contrasts with the smaller raptor absolutely enthralling.

Besides the excellent narrative, this book is greatly enhanced by some absolutely charming photographs, as well as exquisite graphic illustrations by artist Christa Hook. This is a book to read and re-read, perhaps to read aloud. It is not a children's book in any sense of the word, but I would highly recommend it for any young person who has an interest in the potential of the relationships of humans and animals, especially birds.
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