Posted by: 2in10 | 07/21/2011

sweet reads

Want to lose yourself in a book that fills your heart with wonder? Here are two animal stories, one from 1966 and the other from 2008, that highlight the emotional life and personalities of birds that for good reasons are reared by humans.

That Quail, Robert by Margaret A. Stanger

Stanger’s neighbors in Orleans, Massachusetts on Cape Cod bring an abandoned quail egg into their home. When it miraculously and unexpectedly hatches, Thomas and Mildred Kienzle spend three and a half wondrous years sharing their home with a 5-ounce quail they name Robert. Their relationship and adventures are told by their neighbor, writer Margaret Stanger, who babysits Robert and develops her own relationship with the little bird and her (yes, her) admirers from around the world.

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

O’Brien was working in a wildlife lab at Caltech when she was asked if she could provide a home for an injured barn owl. She adopted the 4-day-old bird and spent 17 years caring for and loving him. O’Brien understands The Way of the Owl,  including their passionate devotion to their mates, and lived in conformity with it. She estimates she fed him more than 28,000 mice.

Tyto alba is the only species of 17 barn owls that lives in North America. They weigh one pound when full grown but have a wingspan of more than three feet. You will recognize their flat, white, heart-shaped faces punctuated by dark eyes. 

O’Brien says she developed her love of animals from her dad, an engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratories. She says her dad “…taught us to observe animals without disturbing them, and every encounter was like a breathtaking meeting with an intelligent life form from another world, so different yet so familiar…”

My cousin who trains vet techs says as much as she loves animals, she “hates” animal stories because they always end with the animal’s death. These two are no exception, but what we learn from their shared lives more than balances the sadness.



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