For the past 25 years Daniel Butler has lived in a sixteenth century farmhouse 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
Daniel Butler has published six books about nature and the countryside, including The Red Tail: Sharing the Seasons with a Hawk. Butler was the ghost writer of Jimmy Doherty’s A Farmer’s Life for Me. His journalism has been published in the Telegraph, Country Living, Countryside, The Independent, Daily Express, Country and Border Life, the Central Office for Information, the Brecon Beacons National Park. He was the editor of Tree News in 2008. Daniel is also a fungi expert, a mycology tutor in the Department of Lifelong Learning at Aberystwyth, and runs foraging courses. He has researched and presented food and rural programmes for Channel Four and Radio 4.