Boo left us on November 14. Perhaps it is overly sentimental to some, TO THE LIGHT for the blogbut I know he is perching in cottonwood trees and hunting mice, where ever it is that screech owls go when they die.

In March 2005, Boo was found alongside a road near Eugene, Oregon. Cascades Raptor Center took care of him, getting him well and giving him the opportunity to prove he could hunt again. He couldn’t. His vision was too badly impaired. In October of that year, he was flown to South Dakota to become an avian ambassador.

He did his job to perfection for 7 years. We have no idea how old he was, because there is no simple way to age an owl.

Wild animals tend to keep secret if they are not feeling well. If they let on that they are sick or injured, they will likely be eaten. So if Boo was feeling poorly, he never let us know. In fact, on Tuesday night November 13, Boo pounced on his meal of mice before Maggie left the mews. She found him the next day.

As humans, we grow so terribly attached. These birds are a passion, an added dimension to life, a way to educate, a way to stay connected to nature. Weeks have passed, and there remains a hole in our hearts that hasn’t completely scabbed over.

New screech owls will come to the Raptor Center. They will have their own personalities, idiosyncrasies, and preferences. They will need to be trained to step to glove, travel in crates, learn about audiences, learn to trust our deposits in their “trust banks.” We are excited for the future, ever mindful of what Boo gave to us.

Thanks Boo. Those two words hardly seem like enough.

photo courtesy of Dave Vaughn ©