When ecologist Carl Safina and his wife Patricia took in a near-death baby owl, they expected that, like other wild orphans they’d rescued, she’d be a temporary presence. But Alfie’s feathers were not growing correctly, requiring prolonged care.
As Alfie grew and gained strength, she became a part of the family, joining a menagerie of dogs and chickens and making a home for herself in the backyard. Carl and Patricia began to realize that the healing was mutual; Alfie had been braided into their world and was now pulling them into hers.
Alfie & Me: What Owls Know, What Humans Believe, by Carl Safina, Ph.D. (W.W. Norton: Oct 3, 2023) is the story of the remarkable impact this little owl would have on their lives. The continuing bond of trust following her freedom — and the raising of her own wild brood — coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a year in which Carl and Patricia were forced to spend time at home without the normal obligations of work and travel. Witnessing all the fine details of their feathered friend’s life offered Carl and Patricia a view of existence from Alfie’s perspective.
Carl Safina, Ph.D, author of Becoming Wild and Beyond Words, is the recipient of Pew, MacArthur, Guggenheim, and National Science Foundation fellowships, and has written for the New York Times, Time, the Guardian, and National Geographic. He lives on Long Island, New York. You can find out more about Carl Safina at https://www.carlsafina.org
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