ONE MAN'S OWL (224 pp., Princeton University Press,1987) 

This is an engaging chronicle of how the author and the great horned owl Bubo came to know one another over three summers spent in the Maine woods--and of how Bubo eventually grew into an independent hunter.

REVIEWS (5 OF 5 stars on Amazon): "[Bernd Heinrich] tells the tender story of a very small animal experiment. The experiment is clearly a ruse--an excuse for indulging the infatuation that blossoms when a man stumbles over a baby owl. Its tiny talon sticking out of the snow catches his attention. . . . Mr. Heinrich . . . knows only too well that naturalists take a dim view of the urge to remove a bird from the wild and take it home to nurse. This book, complete with affectionate drawings and photographs by the author, may serve as his apology."—The New York Times Book Review

"Bernd Heinrich is a nature lover, a scholar, and a fine writer. . . . One Man's Owl straddles the line between formal science and sheer love of the wild, and does it beautifully."—The Los Angeles Times Book Review


Along with my studies of insects, I'd had since childhood an intense interest in birds. As a side-project, (after deciding to leave California and return home to Maine and try living one summer with my new bride, Maggie, in my shack there in the woods) we got to know two wild young crows and a great horned owl that lived there free in the woods with us. It was magical to be with all four of them, to have them as close full-time companions. Wanting to never forget, I took extensive notes and photographs, and aside from a couple of insect projects, examined the famously intense mobbing behavior of crows on owls. The two crows grew up with the owl, and all ended up tolerating and/or ignoring each other. It had turned out differently than I expected, and though the data were not of the type suitable for a scientific research report, it made for an information-rich journal.

By chance I later happened to meet the editor of the Princeton University Press, who had dropped in to see me at the University of Vermont that fall. He asked me if was “working on a next book.” I had not thought of any next book, but told him about my notes of experiences with an owl. “Can I see them?” he asked. He could, and he read them, too, and to my pleasant surprise, suggested I collect them into a book.

The experience had been one of visual images, and so I consulted my photographs and went back to pencil drawing from them, including making one large color portrait of Bubo, the owl. I had not really seen the owl, I realized, until I tried to draw it. Nor had I known it, until I had written his/her (its) story.