For many years now I have been fascinated with birds of prey. And in particular I am fond of owls. I have always admired them and the fact that they are visually beautiful creatures at the same time as being efficient predators. My love of owls even inspired the name of my blog, and the wooden owl who has been on my shelves for many years. So when I saw a beautiful copy of The Secret Life of the Owl last week, I just had to have it.
The Secret Life of the Owl is the latest book by John Lewis-Stempel who is a farmer and writer who has previously written award winning books about wildlife and the environment, winning the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing twice. In this book he explores the history of owls, and the secrets behind these magnificent creatures. The book is split into three main sections which examine the key characteristics of owls, the species of owls that reside in Britain and the relationships between owls and humans in different cultures and periods in history. And there are some fascinating snippets of information in this book. I have visited several owl sanctuaries so am familiar with different owls but there were facts in this book that were new to me and made for interesting reading. These helped to further my fascination with owls. It is a book that also explores the attitudes towards owls over the years, how they are regarded by some as wise birds that bring luck, as well as bad omens that can leave fear in their wake by others.
At around 90 pages this is a very short book, and one that can be read in one sitting. And whilst I really enjoyed this book, I did wish it was a little longer! I found it to be a well written book with the prologue and epilogue in particular having a poetic, lyrical feel. It is also interspersed with extracts and poems about owls from over the years which emphasises the significance they have had within our culture, and the way they captivate us. With its stunning cover design and illustrations by Beci Kelly, this is a book that would make a perfect gift for anyone with an interest in owls or wildlife in general. It is a book that provides fascinating insight into the lives of these creatures that are so familiar to us, and highlights just how incredible they are.