Wesley the Owl: Love Story of an Owl and His Girl

Posted on August 2, 2011  Comments (1)

This story begins on Valentine”™s Day in 1985 when biologist Stacey O”™Brien meets a four-day-old baby barn owl in a fateful encounter that would turn into an astonishing 19-year saga. With nerve damage in one wing, the owlet”™s ability to fly was forever compromised and he had no hope of surviving on his own in the wild. A young assistant in the owl laboratory at Caltech, O”™Brien promised to care for the helpless owlet and give him a permanent home. O”™Brien”™s heartfelt memoir of life with this wild bird, Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl recounts their dramatic, and often humorous, life together.

For almost two decades, O”™Brien studied Wesley and his strange habits intensively and providing a mice-only diet. With a heart-shaped face and outsized personality that belied his 18-inch stature, the gorgeous white-and-gold Wesley fascinated everyone he met, and touched many lives. Stacey and Wesley”™s bond was especially deep; O”™Brien discovered that owls are highly sentient beings with individual personalities, subtle emotions, and a playful nature that can also turn fiercely loyal and protective.

Cool fact: “While we hear in two dimensions, owls hear in three.” Owls can detect a mouse heartbeat under three feet of snow.
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As O”™Brien got close to Wesley, she made important discoveries about owl behavior, intelligence, and communications skills. Stacey’s decision to study Wesley with a more holistic approach as an ethologist allowed her to observe barn owl behavior with a fresh eye that helped her discover previously unknown behavior. For instance, she was able to study his mating call, which she learned can also be a greeting, and she tracked his moods with changes in his vocalizations.

Stacey O”™Brien is trained as a biologist specializing in wild animal behavior. She graduated from Occidental College with a BS in biology and continued her education at Caltech, where she was involved with owl research. Stacey now works as a wildlife rescuer and rehabilitation expert with a variety of local animals, including the endangered brown pelican, sea birds, raccoons, possums, and songbirds.

Stacey: “We are capable of giving love, that is why we are on this planet.”

One Response to “Wesley the Owl: Love Story of an Owl and His Girl”

  1. Bo
    September 23rd, 2015 @ 11:07 am

    I love awls! Sadly, my girlfriend is terrified by them. =)

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