- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (June 2, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1416551778
- ISBN-13: 978-1416551775
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (537 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl Paperback – June 2, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Owls permeate literature and mythology, an ancient animal ("some 97 million years" old) that has fascinated for centuries; still, few people have had as intimate an encounter with the mysterious night birds as biologist O'Brien. As a student researcher at Caltech, she fell in love with an injured four-day-old barn owl and seized the opportunity to adopt him permanently. She named him Wesley, and for 19 years kept, cared for and studied him, forging a tremendous relationship with the still-wild animal, as well as a vast understanding of his abilities, instincts and habits: "He was my teacher, my companion, my child, my playmate, my reminder of God." Her heartwarming story is buttressed by lessons on owl folklore, temperament ("playful and inquisitive"), skills, and the brain structure that gives them some amazing abilities, like spotting a mouse "under three feet of snow by homing in on just the heartbeat." It also details her working life among fellow scientists, a serious personal health crisis, and the general ins and outs of working with animals. This memoir will captivate animal lovers and, though not necessarily for kids, should hold special appeal for Harry Potter fans who've always envied the boy wizard his Hedwig.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"I love Wesley the Owl! Not since Konrad Lorenz have I read such an honest, vivid, and revealing account of the rich and complex life of an individual bird. Stacey O'Brien has captured the essence of the soul of an unforgettable owl. Affectionate, quirky, joyous, and wise, Wesley shows us the Way of the Owl -- the way to God and grace. This book is destined to become a classic, and will deepen importantly the way we understand birds." -- Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig
"Wesley the Owl is beautiful, funny, transcendental, fascinating, and powerful. I loved this book!" -- Lynne Cox, author of Grayson and Swimming to Antarctica
"This compelling story sheds a bright, shining light into the world of animal emotions and the powerful bonds forged between animals and humans. A heartfelt journey of life and love with one of nature's wild creatures, Wesley the Owl is a must-read story of faith, compassion, and selfless devotion." -- Jay Kopelman, author of From Baghdad, With Love and From Baghdad to America
"Most 'me and my bird' stories are mildly entertaining at best, but Wesley the Owl is a different animal altogether. Stacey O'Brien got to know this owl with a unique combination of deep scientific understanding and rare emotional intensity, and the result is stunning, unforgettable. Read this book and you will never see owls, or humans, in the same light again." -- Kenn Kaufman, author of Kingbird Highway and Flights Against the Sunset
"This fun book reminded me of Marley & Me, but with wings. Warm, weird, and wonderful, Wesley the Owl is proof that man's best friend sometimes has feathers." -- Mark Obmascik, author of The Big Year
"An inside look at the mind of an owl. If you are interested in animal intelligence, you should read this book." -- Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation
"The best of love stories between two intelligent beings, told (by the human) with good humor and remarkable insights into the mind of an owl -- I couldn't put it down." -- Donald Kroodsma, Ph.D., professor emeritus at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of The Singing Life of Birds
"[S]weet, quirky memoir....[T]his little guy's such a character." -- USA Today
"Wesley will make you wonder if owls are not at least as wise as humans and as capable of compassion. Wesley the Owl will stretch your notions about the limits of interspecies communication and love. It will entertain, delight and, finally, cause you to weep. Guaranteed." -- Sam Keen, author of Sightings: Extraordinary Encounters With Ordinary Birds
"Stacey O'Brien tells the intriguing story of how her life was changed and rearranged when she attempted to tame and raise Wesley -- a barn owl. She shows us how she was ultimately repaid with his love and devotion, and given glimpses into the mind of an animal that has an unexpected ability to understand human language and to communicate. Fascinating!" -- Stanley Coren, psychologist and author of How Dogs Think and Why Does My Dog Act That Way?
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Top Customer Reviews
I haven't read too many stories about birds, as most "bird stories" aren't really my thing, but the barn owl is my favorite type of bird, and I have always been interested in wildlife rehabilitation.
There were a lot of interesting facts as well as the beautiful story of Wesley and Stacey. They obviously had an incredible bond; one that most pet owners wish for with their companions.
My only complaint is that it was so short!!
Recommend this to anyone doing wildlife rehab or anyone who just loves wildlife. Facinating facts about owls and thier ecological place in the world.
I actually read (perhaps the verb should be devoured) the book the same day it arrived in the mail! LOL :) And yes! I found a few intriguing connections in Wesley's Way (his own owl nature) and with Taoism's "letting nature have its course." "Wesley the Owl" is NOT a book on Taoism or really any particular religion, yet one cannot help but find some strong (inspiring) spiritual threads in this beautiful tapestry of love, devotion, and life. As the story unfolds, readers see that the unreleasible wild owl, of course, is a being of nature, still operating according to his own deep instincts and simple interpretations of the world, though he, for his survival, must adapt to live in human environments just as his human companion, Stacey O'Brien, must adapt to live with him as he is, feathers, mice, and all. He and his human mommy-mate work together to achieve a new harmony--a balance, where opposites beings are married to the same "greater than self" ideas: routines, rhythms, relationships, sacrifice, and trust. For me, the most stirring statements in the book that capture all my ramblings above are these:
"To that which you tame, you owe your life" (Page 18). And O'Brien's story proves this!
"It seems to be universally understood among all sentient animals, even reptiles, that the eyes are the windows to the mind of the being within." (Page 53-54; HP fans will appreciate this passage.)
"Owls do not tolerate lies" (Page 95).
"I had chose to tame him and thereby made him vulnerable. I had taught him to trust me implicitly, no matter what. After so many years this trust was perfect and unbroken.....the Way of the Owl. You commit for life, you finish what you start, you give unconditional love, and that is enough. I looked into the eyes of the owl, found the way of God there..." (Page 211).
Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher, is credited with saying, "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage" and "I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures." [quotes from [...] /l/lao_tzu.html] Wesley the Owl's story definitely exhibits the first quote. Stacey O'Brien, her family, her friends, and special barn owl created a powerful, life-preserving, life-enhancing circle of love that is refreshing in today's fast-paced, ego-driven, often selfish world. Both Wesley and Stacey were saved by love. // Through working with Wesley, the humans learned to appreciate the three most important lessons of living (treasures): simplicity --in a steady diet of one item, mice; patience--in sharing space with an intelligent, vocal non-human who had his own personality, needs, wishes, fears, expectations, and requests; compassion--in the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly care-giving to a wild animal that might have otherwise have died.
So, in my opinion, this is a book worth reading. I enjoyed it from cover to cover because it opened my mind to new worlds and to new perspectives on ideas related to philosophy, science, and humanity. I would recommend it for those who are considering "wild pets," especially for HP fans who are thinking how cool it would be to have an owl! I would recommend it for newlywed and for new parents. I would recommend it for high school and college reading lists. However, due to some of detailed descriptions and events in the book, I think the readers should be at least 13 or 14 or better...with adult supervision for young teens, especially those who may have questions or concerns. PARENTS' NOTE: This is a book that openly discusses natural, personal, and often mature topics. Certain parts may create some serious concerns and / or strong categorical rejections for some readers, particularly those who hold certain political, economic, social, moral, or religious beliefs:
1) Preparing / killing the mice for the owl to eat. These sections may disturb young readers if they are not taught about predator-prey relationships or about the care and feeding of unusual animal "pets;" they may disturb readers concerned about animals rights and the ethics of science and scientific research. (I confess to being disturbed by some of these passages myself though I understand that Wesley had to eat, and in his situation, he could not obtain the items himself, naturally from the wild as free barn owls would do. Forgive me, Ms. O'Brien, but I could not keep mice meat in my freezer / refrigerator or use my microwave to defrost it. If a bird lived with me, he would have to be able to stomach turkey, hamburger, and KFC! LOL :)
2) Owl excretions...er... and Owl sex... [No further comment! :) ]
3) Career & life style choices, activities, and attitudes of some of the people within the story, including the author herself.
In my opinion, this book is best enjoyed by those who honor diversity and who keep an opened, inquisitive mind. It can be helpful for those who want to stretch their readerships by exploring people and activities outside of their regular patterns.