Alfie and Me: What Owls Know, What Humans Believe

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This is a moving account by ecologist Carl Safina, of how he and his wife raised an orphaned screech owl and then set it free. 

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 and required 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 is the story of the remarkable impact this little owl would have on their lives. Once free, Alfie set about raising her own wild brood. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic began and Carl and Patricia were forced to spend time at home without the normal obligations of work and travel. They were able to watch and ponder all the details of their feathered friend’s life. Interwoven with Safina’s keen observations, insight, and reflections, this book is a work of profound beauty and magical timing harbored within that upended year.    


Carl Safina is a professor at Stony Brook University and the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" fellowship. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Time, the Guardian, Audubon, and National Geographic.

"The book is brilliant. It made me laugh, weep, marvel ... at Alfie, at  humanity, at you, Carl, and your remarkable insights and sensibility.  Bravo! May Alfie and her book soar!" - Jennifer Ackerman, New York Times best-selling author.