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'Perched on the back of a sunlit chair was something about 9 inches tall and shaped rather like a plump toy penguin with a nose job It appeared to be wearing a one piece knitted jumpsuit of pale grey fluff with brown stitching complete with an attached balaclava helmet From the face hole of the fuzzy balaclava two big shiny black eyes gazed up at me trustfully Kweep it said uietly'When author Martin Windrow met the tawny owlet that he christened Mumble it was love at first sight Raising her from a fledgling through adolescence and into her prime years Windrow recorded every detail of their time living together secretly in a south London tower block and later in a Sussex village This is the touching intriguing and eccentric story of their 15 year relationship complete with photographs and illustrations of the beautiful Mumble Along the way we are given fascinating insight into the ornithology of owls from their evolution and biology to their breeding habits and hunting tactics The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar is a witty uirky and utterly charming account of the companionship between one man and his owl

10 thoughts on “The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar

  1. says:

    This was one of those books that enters your life through sheer coincidence A colleague showed me a book about owls on because of a very funny picture of three hatchlings and one of the recommendations was this book I clicked it and was intriguedA man a real life man who had an owl as a pet?A British man at that who seemed to be typically humorous?Needless to say that it didn't take long for the package to arrive A sidenote A couple of weeks previously I bought this little tote bag I have several to put my books in for when I transport them in my bag so they won't get damagedI consider it a sign that this book was about to enter my life ;You know how there are different kinds of humour?There are great jokes and sketches performed by often wonderful artists and then there is real life humour stemming from normal situations that turned hilarious when something unexpectedly goes horribly wrongThis book belongs in the latter category and if it had been any funny I might not have survived reading itGranted when reading the introduction I was already sad knowing that from today's perspective Mumble the owl was dead I was furious however when it was hinted that an activist was responsible for her dying even sooner than she would have had toBut then the first chapter started and although it wasn't about Mumble at all but about another owl named Wellington I shook with laughterFor a man who is a military historian Martin Windrow is a first class entertainer and comedian This is him fairly recently as opposed to his younger self in one of the photographs I posted in the status updates while reading the bookThe book details how Mr Windrow got the idea of having an owl as a pet and how he acuired one It also details how his first try went horribly wrong in a realistic and enormously funny way and then how he got to live with Mumble from when she was just a few weeks old for about 15 yearsUsually I would think that wild animals belong in the wild but I'm not an idiot There are many situations resulting in wild animals needing to live with humans in order to survive and given the living space provided to Mumble I was OK with it all Maybe that is what made me so angry about the aforementioned activist who caused Mumbles death through sheer ignorancestupidityWhat is very clever and noteworthy about this book is that the author didn't just type his journal entries yes he had a diary from during those years and generally recounts tales from back then He also included a lot of scientific information about the evolution anatomy hunting living and mating habits and all sorts of other useful information about owls mostly tawny owls of course making this book not only funny as hell but also very informative and the included photographs and illustrations on the inside of the coveras well as at the beginning of each chapterround everything off to a great reading experienceI won't give away too much about Mumble's life but the following is an excerpt from chapter 3 that had me cracking up on the train so much that I had tears in my eyes people talking about me and the conducter asking if I was OK This was about young Mumble not being fully able to fly yet Her incompetence was most obvious when she forgot as she often did her previous experiences of ice landings on the long marble coffee table She made her final approach far too fast and at far too shallow an angle and when she touched down she simply skidded across it with her feet flailing vainly for traction her wings beating wildly and her tail fanning out awkwardly in all directions Invariably she would disappear off the far side in an ungainly cartwheeling of feathers like some broken ornithopterin a jerky early 1900s newsreelOne day she added a refinement to this routine attempting a lengthways landing while a roll of paper towels was lying on the near end of the flight deck Apparently expecting this to be solidly fixed she smacked straight into it talons first Naturally under the impact of about a pound of fast moving owl it began to roll along the table unreeling as it went Mumble found herself frantically flapping and back peddaling on top of it riding the ever diminishing cylinder like a lumberjack on a rolling log until both of them fell off the end of the table She seemed to find my helpless laughter irritating one can take umbrage so much convincingly when one has a lot of feathers The author also describes his move from South London to the countryside and all the adjustments that meant for him and Mumble He takes the reader through a daily and a yearly routine of Mumble and he's even making a great case for animals having affections like Mumble enjoying their cuddles and not just coming for food her not letting anyone else handle her etcThe end of course is hard to digest so I'm going to curl up into a ball in my bed and cry now and I completely understand why he never wrote about his life with Mumble before and why when he ultimately did it it was so hard for himA great read for any owl lover like me but also for every other person who is interested in a bit of natural history not just about owls about humans too pet stories and a great deal of fun and mischief

  2. says:

    For those obsessed with owls guilty; there is no fonder thought than having a pet owl even though this is impractical and often illegal Thankfully owl lovers can live vicariously through people who have experienced this bliss for themselves One such lucky individual is Martin Windrow a prestigious author and editor of military history Windrow shares his life with a pet owl in “The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar Living with a Tawny Owl”“The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar” is unlike most other memoirs as one will not find amateur writing amongst its pages Windrow combines a memoir recap with science zoology paleontology and even sociology; with a prose that sometimes reminds of a classic lit novel Not only it is clear that Windrow is both intelligent and completed hours of research on owls but he presents it in exciting and captivating wayThe issue with this plethora of information is a slight lack of cohesiveness Instead of seamlessly inserting academic information into the memoir stories; Windrow opts to alternate chapters between memoir and research breaking reader attention Plus Windrow sometimes goes into too much detail in order to attract general readers such as owl descriptions which most readers will already know as owl lovers and explaining what a typewriter isREALLY?Further causing some choppiness is the insertion of diary entries from times Windrow spent with Mumble his pet owl This feels abrupt and changes the tone On the other hand these excerpts bring both Windrow and Mumble to life and reveal what their interactions were like first handElaborating on that note Windrow truly allows the reader to get to know both him and Mumble Personalities are explored through the memories and laugh out loud moments are depicted with a strong pace Basically Windrow’s text is a perfect mix of scholarly prose with an accessible and friendly attitudeAfter the half way point “The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar” becomes slightly clinical with an absence of emotion and stray tangents Windrow tends to simply review Mumble’s behaviors like an experiment and bores with comparisons to the military obviously he couldn’t help himself Those readers seeking a light hearted animalpet memoir will be disappointed The conclusion of “The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar” is highly emotional without being too sappy but including some science and philosophy in true Windrow fashion This is solid powerful and memorable; wrapping the memoir up wellWindrow provides the reader with a few written and web sources for further reading plus supplements the text with photos although these are sadly only in black and white“The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar” is an excellent memoir for owl lovers and definitely not flimsy However those seeking a casual heartwarming animal story may find it a tad clinical and over written Not to mention the text would have been stronger with direct information on life with Mumble readers are left with many unanswered uestions Regardless “The Who Liked Sitting on Caesar” is uite a delight

  3. says:

    I confess I picked up this book years ago because I LOVE owls I seriously do not regret any moment of this The book follows the true story of the author Martin Windrow and his pet tawny owl Mumble It was full off warm hearted moments that made my heart sing You get to see such a beautiful side to Mumble’s nature I loved the addition of the photos of Mumble I couldn’t stop showing them to my family This book taught me so much about owls that I didn’t no previously I am suddenly gifted with random knowledge like an owls heart rateI smiled laughed and felt tearful throughout this book I was beautiful and felt like receiving a warm hug I’m not usually one for non fiction books but I loved this

  4. says:

    Delightful memoir in breezy casual style The author a military historian has fashioned a narrative about his adopting an owl as a pet He fails to raise Wellington a Little Owl but is very successful in raising Mumble a female Tawny Owl She comes to him as a weeks' old fledgling and they bond from the first Her life with the author is described and she has a definite personality Her favorite perches are the lintel of a door and a bust of Germanicus NOT Julius She's a really intelligent bird and a uick study Losing then recovering her leads the author to give us facts on Tawnies life in the wild sharp senses life cycle Some humorous and poignant episodes are related eg Mumble in the author's den and her reaction to his typewriter WHILE he's typing This made me chuckle She reacts to guests an owl sitter a visit to farm of author's brother in Kent other owls and pigeons she sees through the glass of his apartment window The anatomy of a generic Tawny switching to Mumble then how she spends her day The drawing of an owl skeleton is given on page 167 it's uite different from the fluffy rotund bird that we see Their move to Sussex in the country stimulates Mumble because of her outdoor aviary The author describes her typical year from notes in his journal The summertime moulting is the big event each year also mood and psychological changes Finally Mumble dies after fifteen years lifetime in the wild is maybe five The author to this day has wonderful memories of their life togetherFascinating book between this fun memoir and the freuent nuggets of information on the Tawny Owl Line drawings and photos added another dimension Highly recommended

  5. says:

    This is the 2nd book I've read recently about the bond between a human and a wild bird the 1st being the excellent H is for Hawk by Helen MacdonaldI live in a very rural location surrounded by fields and copses of woodland and I see owls uite freuently usually sitting on fence posts I always get a particular thrill though if I see them in flight there's something about that owl face and those wings that makes me feel as if I have experienced something special I also enjoy hearing them hooting at nightHowever I cannot imagine any circumstance that would mean me sharing my home with a tawny owl and even so if that home was a 7th floor flat on the edge of London This is exactly what Martin Windrow did and this book very amusingly tells us about this relationship with the tawny owl he calls MumbleThe book often alternate between his experiences often with diary entries about living with Mumble and chapters giving us a wider picture about owls for example their place in legend and mythologyWindrow reminds us several times that he is 'no ornithologist' but living so closely with a tawny owl for so many years has given him a superb insight into the way they live even noting different moods and responses at different times of the yearI wonder what rules of the Highway Code he broke in driving through heavy London traffic with a tawny owl on his shoulder I also laughed at the description of 3 male visitors sitting on his sofa drinking wine and each of them wearing a metal helmet Windrow is a Military Historian to avoid Mumble's razor sharp talons when she decided to dive bomb their thinning scalpsWindrow is unsentimental and straightforward but his love for Mumble shines through on every page

  6. says:

    I normally avoid books about a man and his animal They always end with the animal dying and me cryingI was sucked into this one by the clever title Clever and misleading There's only one mention in the book of the owl sitting on a bust of Caesar Germanicus Caesar if I recall correctlyWhat I learned from this book is that there's a reason owls will never outdo dogs and cats as popular pets Although the author clearly found his tawny owl endearing all of the evidence of the book suggests that an owl makes a horrible petI learned some interesting things along the way such as the fact that an owl or at least a tawny owl can swivel its head 270 degrees Don't try this at home unless you are an owlBut if I shed any tears they were tears of boredom

  7. says:

    Luckily for him but so for us Martin Windrow is a delightful writer His book might otherwise have been a slog but it reads very well and is full of wry observations humor and even though it’s a book about an owl humanityTwo things that apart from the memorable character of Mumble herself stand out to me First I very much like the image of Mr Windrow’s three houseguests seated in the living room wearing antiue military helmets to protect themselves from owl attack Second I am impressed by the observation offered by one of the author’s friends that we human beings lead “vertical” lives whereas most other animals it seems lead “horizontal” livesIn Windrow’s re presentation of the idea the vertical soul is “capable of touching all levels of existence – from the satisfaction of animal appetites to the intellectual exploration of distant galaxies or the highest flights of artistic creativity” The vertical soul may also perhaps Windrow won’t commit himself continue an upward trajectory beyond death By contrast creatures with horizontal souls are “in touch as we never can be with every manifestation of life at their own level feeling and responding to all the tides of which we are unaware” Further “it is to our sick cost that the great majority of humanity have lost that ‘horizontal’ awareness entirely” In summarizing his fifteen year companionship with Mumble Windrow suggests that we are somehow able to re discover to a degree the vitality of the horizontal soul in the bonds we form with other creatures There is something healthy and enriching in such relationships and no one who has ever loved a fellow but non human creature can doubt it

  8. says:

    Non FictionMartin Windrow adopts Mumble a tawny owl when she's still developing in her shell He actually selected that one owl egg from othersI'm fascinated by birds and have spent much time in my heavily forested area trying to spot an owls I hear No luck in 12 years This book explained the coloring of owls that match their surroundings but also their ability to sit silently in one place for long periods of timeI wish I liked this book The author's repeated and tedious chronicles of the owl's life inside his apartment moods etc got old fast He did get away from this repeated theme with an explanation of the bone structure of owls which was very interesting I was bothered that this owl about the size of a loaf of bread was confined to this man's apartment for the most part of 15 years Later the man moved to the country and assembled a natural outside pen for the owlMumble didn't suffer any disability which would have made her unable to be released into the wild I kept thinking this poor owl stuck inside an apartment for most of hisher lifeWhy didn't he adopt an injured owl who couldn't be released in the wild? Or maybe a parakeet?

  9. says:

    A sweet and at times funny book I love owls but can't say I ever thought of keeping one as a petAt first when reading this account of the author Martin Windrow living a South London tower block with a young tawny owl I didn't totally approve of the arrangement thinking to myself that an owl should be living in a tree and hunting for food in the woodlands and fields But as I read on I realised that the owl called Mumble and Martin had a real bonding and were both uite happy with the arrangement However their subseuent move to a Sussex village seemed a better idea although Mumble had adapted well enough to his urban existenceThe book was filled with lots of interesting owl info such as their breeding habits and hunting tactics plus their biology and evolutionSince reading this book whenever I hear the sound of a tawny owl at night in my local woodland I think of Mumble And if it's raining I think of Mumble enjoying having a bath and being dried by a hairdryer after

  10. says:

    I identified with Martin Windrow's inexplicable eccentric determination to have an owl pet even after his first failed trial with a Little Owl Don't mistake this for child's lit; he doesn't try to make the owl too cutesy or lovable As a writer he succeeds in making me feel like a friend and eual Demonstrable is the therapeutic value of a creature companion for the lonely or depressed The everything you ever wanted to know ornithology might be boring for some though most of it is interesting Regardless it's easy enough to read in cruise mode through these sections The second half it does become a somewhat rambling diary For the substance of the topic this book runs about 30% too long I wish the author told us a little about himself Family? Any significant other? Style sample Her company enriched my life; it saved me from too much self absorption and increased my daily pleasure to a degree that I would never have imagined possible