In some cultures, owls symbolize intuition and the ability to see what others do not see. That is exactly what Leigh Calvez has achieved through her field work on owls — the ability to see what others do not see. And she graciously shares this wisdom with us in her book, The Hidden Lives of Owls: The Science and Spirt of Nature’s Most Elusive Birds.
In other cultures, owls symbolize the balance of day and night. Leigh also gives us balance in her book – the perfect balance between scientific observation and the personal narrative of her experience capturing this data. We learn about the habits, movements and eco-threats faced by eleven different breeds of owls, as seen in their native environments. We also learn about the countless volunteers and scientists that dedicate their lives to banding, observing and recording the activities of these primarily nocturnal birds. Leigh gives us a peek into the world of those that are dedicated to preserving the existence of these wise and beautiful creatures.
While those readers seeking a strictly scientific approach may be disappointed, I found Leigh’s perspective to be both accessible and enjoyable. By the end of the book, I had a much keener appreciation and understanding of owls, and the challenges they face. But I also had a much keener appreciation for the author’s search for, and experience in, observing these birds in their native habitat. With each chapter focusing on a specific breed, it felt as if it each story was being told to me by a personal friend over a cup of coffee and a danish.
As a side note, the illustrations by Tony Angell are amazing, and worth having a printed version of the book, rather than the kindle version. My only wish is that some maps were included in the book, as a reference to the areas that Leigh visited the owls.