AN OWL CAME TO STAY by Claire Rome


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An English artist's pleasantly informal if unexceptional account--with pictures--of the owls in her life. Of the three Tawny owls Rome raises, Wolly and Squeaky are delighted with their return to the wild, but Chippy knows a good thing when he sees it, and prefers a life with humans who cater to his needs. Rome sets up mouse traps in her garden to catch his dinner (and maintain his natural diet, lest he opt for freedom), and lets him perch on her head while she paints. She guides the reader through the serene Dorset countryside in her backyard, recounting her communions with snails, wasps, hawks, etc. Then, more dully, she describes the owls' daily habits--feeding, bathing, and pelleting. More interesting owl and wildlife data is blended inconspicuously into the stories--owls have huge slits for ears, sleep on one foot, blink as a greeting, and are kittenishly curious and affectionate. They can be comical too: once Wolly tried to land on a beech tree painted on a canvas, another time he raged jealously over a painted owl. In true Born Free/Living Free fashion, Wolly returns frequently to visit momma Rome after being set free, and even brings his first three (wild) offspring with him. For owl lovers, a treat; for others, just too diffuse and low-key.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 1980
Publisher: Crown