“Wesley’s eyes were a deep, inscrutable black. Even when they first opened, they harbored a great mystery and held my gaze. Looking into his eyes was like looking into infinity, into something far away and cosmic. It was a profoundly spiritual experience….”
This is not your average birding book. Stacey O’Brien adopted a baby barn owl when he was only days old, naming him Wesley. Nerve damage in his wing meant he’d never live successfully as a wild owl. Her commitment to live with and care for Wesley would span almost 19 years, until his death.
Barn owls can’t be kept in a cage, so Wesley and Stacey truly lived together with mutual love and respect. She adapted to “The Way of the Owl,” and he, having imprinted on a human, developed some very un-owl-like traits. For example, barn owls don’t typically like to get wet, but Wesley delighted in taking baths!
Parts of this book are funny—such as when a bagful of live mice escaped, with one running down the hallways in full view of some Very Important dinner guests. Or when Wesley decided Stacey is his mate, built her nest after nest, and tried to cram dead mice into her mouth. Other parts are poignant, as all animal stories tend to be.
She saved Wesley’s life by taking him in and raising him in her home. In a very real sense, he saved hers as well, when she struggled through the depression of a major illness with no hope of a cure. Contemplating suicide, it was her love for Wesley and his trust in her that held her here.
The author is trained as a biologist, not a writer, and while very readable, the book lacks the polished prose of a skilled author. Still, it’s a heartwarming story, and one well worth reading.
Learn more about Wesley the Owl here.