Review: Wesley The Owl by Stacey O’Brien


The Story

Biologists Stacey O’Brien was working Cal Tech when she was given the chance to foster a Barn Owl. A dream job at the sound of it. Who wouldn’t want to cuddle that little ball of fluff? This is her memoir of the unique relationship she built with Wesley–as she named the owl.

What I Loved

I’m an animal nut so there wasn’t much I didn’t love! This is a great story which, if read aloud from the print version so the parent could keep an eye out for a couple of very “grown up” things , would delight anyone who loves birds. I also loved that her parents did not force her to conform and play soccer or whatever, but instead took her, at age 8, to a college lecture by Jane Goodall thus birthing her future career as a biologist. Stacey’s relationship with Wesley is so sweet and touching and the gains that she made in understanding barn owl behavior are a once-in-a-lifetime animal lover’s fairy tale come true.

What Was Funny

There are two scenes that adults will roar over. No spoilers, but do read ahead if using this book with your family.

What I Didn’t Like

There are  few well deserved comments on the animal rights people that could genuinely upset a sensitive, animal-loving child like I was.  I thought these could have been left out. I agree with her opinion entirely, but they were hard to read.  Be sure to really find those first if your child is like that! If you are hyper-sensitive, be aware that a such comments are in the book but are very, very short. They did not contain descriptions of cruelty though.  I also did not like hearing about Wesley’s food even though it was both appropriate and necessary to the book. I’ve never in 55 years been willing to touch a mouse alive, dead or fast-frozen. For me that was just ICK! But it did make me recall the fun my kids, their friend and I had dissecting a barn owl pellet years ago!

What I’d Like

I’d love to see a young person’s edition of this with more photographs and appropriate editing. It could even come packaged with a barn owl pellet.

My Rating


This is not “literature” but it is an awesome story.

Wesley The Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien.


If you enjoy Wesley’s story, you or your family, will likely also enjoy That Quail, Robert by Margaret Stanger



Here is more on Wesley the barn owl



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