The Owl House

Daniel Butler
Publication Date: 
Monday, October 26, 2020
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For the past 25 years Daniel Butler has lived in a sixteenth century farmhouse in the Cambrian Mountains near Rhayader, where he has kept hawks for almost as long. The Owl House, however, is his account of his relationship with two wild birds, barn owls which have nested at the farm over the years. In that time they have become tame, allowing unusually close observation, and Butler is able to record the lives of these two birds and his familiarity with them in extraordinary detail.

This intimate relationship becomes the starting point for an exploration of how the landscape around Butler’s farmhouse – and further afield – has altered over the years, and with it the fortunes of all kinds of wildlife, and in particular those of birds. The changing face of the British countryside is a story of habitat loss, human development and increased traffic and roads; increased housing; noise pollution (especially important for owls); changing farming techniques and land use; the use of agrochemicals; and human indifference to the effects of this. The Cambrian Mountains may be one of the most remote and sparsely populated parts of Britain but it is not immune to physical change and the loss of local tradition and ways of living.

The Owl House is a book of multiple but interwoven themes, including pastoral writing; the relationship between man and bird; environmental exploration. Daniel Butler’s knowledge of birds, the natural world and his particular locale meld these into an evocative and informative book.



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