Last things first—I cried. Wesley the owl died at the end of the book at the age of 19. I am not ashamed to admit I cried. Thirty years ago I would have been sneering at my tearing but in the last 22 years I have had two parrots as pets (both still alive) and I know the close relationship that a human and a bird (perhaps all pets and people) can have.
My older bird, Augustus, came close to death about five years ago. My wife, the Beautiful AP, and I were shattered. I never thought that could happen to me, my lord, I was sad because of a bird? Yes, I was. Augustus was a part of my family; he is still a part of my family.
Stacey O’Brien has written a masterful tale, Wesley the Owl, of her 19 years with a barn owl who would have died in the wild because he started his life with a broken wing. If owls can’t fly, they die. Stacey had a choice; adopt the owl or know that she had consigned him to oblivion. Stacey is a biologist specializing in wild animal behavior. She adopted the owl.
Of course, she had to figure how to feed it (loads and loads of mice) and take care of it in the confines of an indoor life. Wesley had some very strong ideas about how he wanted to live—one way was without other males coming near his “mate.” Wesley was jealous of “suitors.” In that he was much like the Greek hero Odysseus, after whose return from a 20 year adventure, killed his supposedly widowed wife’s suitors.
Despite the word barn in the owl’s name, it is an outdoor creature that might only very, very occasionally wind up in someone’s barn for some strange reason or other.
Wesley the Owl is a personal tale. Stacey suffered from migraines which became so bad that she would pass out. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, then a stroke and wound up in a wheelchair. She seriously thought of suicide. What held her hand? Let her tell you:
“Wesley had been my constant companion, my teacher, and my friend. I now made the decision to honor this little body with the huge soul, and to see him through to the end. I had promises to keep. It was the one thing I could still do. It’s the Way of the Owl. You commit for life, you finish what you start, you give your unconditional love, and that is enough. I looked into the eyes of the owl, found the word of God there, and decided to live.”
I just gave my two birds kisses. These are birds I love. Stacey loved Wesley. Read the book; I think you will enjoy it.
This book review first appeared in the South Shore Audubon Society’s newsletter The Skimmer at http://www.ssaudubon.org/
Frank’s books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.