A call from a RAPTOR rehabber yielded bad news for me today.
Rufus, our beloved red screech owl, was found dead in his mew. It is unclear what caused this, but we have had Rufus since 2005 (he was an adult when he was brought in, so at least a year old), and even if he lived to be 4, that's a respectable life for a screech owl.
I had myself a little cry in his memory, and so many things came to mind....
He was the all-time favorite of the 3 to 5-year old set (because he didn't scream, and he was a non-scary size).
A school that I present to every year loves him so much, they put him on the front page of their website.
His little legs were sensitive to the chemical tanners in our jess leather, so he got "special" jesses.
He would never raise his ear tufts during programs, so I would gently and slowly lift them with my pinky finger.
His yearly Ugly-Molt was something to look forward to.
He was the very first bird of prey I ever held on my hand. And I was scared out of my mind...I kept thinking, "Oh, my God...I'm holding an OWL."
Getting attached to our education birds is different from bonding with a pet.
We don't (and can't) cuddle them, scratch their heads...but I still love my birds fiercely, and there is a very, very large void when they are gone.
Please....let there be a Heaven for Screech Owls.