It took an ailing screech owl to teach a scientist the value of up-close-and-personal study. “An owl found me and then I was watching ‘an’ owl,” he said. The relationship also opened a window for Safina onto personality differences between Alfie and her mates. Safina said he wasn’t concerned about violating convention, particularly if something interesting like individual personality differences among owls could be learned. “What I learned from Alfie is that all sentient beings seek a feeling of well-being and freedom of movement,” Safina said.