In conversation with Scott Weidensaul
A moving account of raising, then freeing, an orphaned screech owl, whose lasting friendship with the author illuminates humanity’s relationship with the world.
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.
Alfie & Me 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. Witnessing all the fine details of their feathered friend’s life offered Carl and Patricia a view of existence from Alfie’s perspective.
Safina’s relationship with an owl made him want to better understand how people have viewed humanity’s relationship with nature across cultures and throughout history. Interwoven with Safina’s keen observations, insight, and reflections, Alfie & Me is a work of profound beauties and magical timing harbored within one upended year.
Carl Safina, 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.