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GrumpyGhostOwl GrumpyGhostOwl is a Female
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It's been a bit of a sad week over here. One of our leading community members and a good friend passed away after a long illness. Three years ago, the doctors gave him 18 months, but he managed to double that, and most of it was quality time.

Sadly, though, he passed away last Tuesday, and the funeral (in Perth where most of the family live) was this Wednesday just gone.

I planned to get up before sparrowfart on Wednesday and make the four-hour drive up to the city to get there in time.

When dawn broke and I hurried outside to clean the aviaries and run a feed around, I found Owl Ryu lying still and silent on the floor of her enclosure, having died in the night. I couldn't see her mate Emrys anywhere so I checked the roost box to find that he, too, had died.

In the wild, the average life span of a Barn Owl is 18 months. There's a huge first-year mortality rate and only about 2% of them reach the age of 3 years. In captivity, they seldom see out twenty years.

I believe Emrys was hatched in 2000, so he would have been 18 this year and Ryu was handed in (basically in pieces) as an adult bird in 2000, so she was at least 19. Neither of them were releasable, so they were given the job of being foster parents to orphaned baby owls, a task they performed year after year. Ryu was a strict den mother and sorted out squabbles in the aviary. I even watched her send a pair of arguing owls to separate corners one day, hissing and flaring her wings until they both subsided and slunk away under Ryu's glare.

Last year, Emrys' health had begun to worsen due to age, so after he came out of the hospital, I moved him and Ryu into a separate, smaller enclosure which I dubbed "the aged care ward." In the aged care ward, they didn't have to worry about competing with the younger, stronger rehab birds for food, and more to the point, I could monitor them more easily. They retired from fostering duties and lived a life of leisure.

Until Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, when they left this life, together as they'd been for the better part of two decades. Even death couldn't separate Ryu and Emrys.

I'd like to think that they gave my departed friend a pretty flashy escort to the next world. Many cultures see owls as psychopomps (beings who guide souls to the afterlife). It's one of the reasons they are feared and seen as birds of ill-omen -- "Oh, look, an afterlife guide. Sure hope it isn't here for me!" Makes me wonder if the Banshee legend has its basis in the unearthly shriek of the ghost owl.

The funeral was a beautiful tribute to a top bloke. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house when the grandchildren stood up and shared their favourite memories of their grandpa. It was difficult to get through since it sent me straight back to my husband's funeral from three and a half years ago (he also died of cancer) and I was saying goodbye to Ryu and Emrys at the same time. I went through some tissues.

There will not be another Ryu. Once a bird has carried a name at any given bird of prey facility, that name is never given to another bird. Other centres may have birds with the same name (I know of three Willows, one of them being Echo's sister) but I will not name another bird Ryu, nor will there be another Emrys or another White Shadow (the original Grumpy Ghostowl.)

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This post has been edited 1 time(s), it was last edited by GrumpyGhostOwl on 29-03-2018 at 22:33.
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Katblu42 Katblu42 is a Female
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What a tough week for you.

Condolences. I hope the fond memories keep the edge off the sadness.

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ElectricWhite ElectricWhite is a Female
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I'm so sorry to hear about your losses, GGO! They're all in a better place, and I'm sure Ryu and Emrys will be glad to see you again someday. They spent their lives with a good hooman.

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Daniella T Daniella T is a Female
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Warmest condolences, GGO!

Sending hugs and thoughts your way, in the hope that they will help in this difficult time!

Huggles

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KT1972 KT1972 is a Female
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So sorry for your losses, GGO. Sending hugs to you at this sad time.Huggles Huggles Huggles Huggles

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Redbird Redbird is a Female
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Am very sorry to hear of your losses, GGO--human and owl.

I agree, Ryu and Emerys are together though, as they were in life. They took the final step together....

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Ebonyswanne Ebonyswanne is a Female
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Thats sad. RIP Owl Ryu, may you fly...

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Becky Rock Becky Rock is a Female
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I'm sorry to hear of your multiple losses. Condolences to your whole family.

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