Afscheid van een uil

Ik was net begonnen aan een vervolgblogje over onze kerkuilen Molly en McGee - dat leek aan de orde, want het eerste ei van het vierde legsel was op 9 maart uitgekomen, en de andere drie uilskuikens werden op 11, 13 en 15 maart verwacht (er zit altijd een dag tussen).
Ook al zouden er geen live beelden zijn uit de Owl Box in San Marcos, CA, de camera zat nog gewoon in de nestkast, en Carlos en Donna zouden de trouwe schare fans van dit prachtpaartje barn bowls met foto's en blogs op de hoogte houden. 

Maar vanochtend vond ik in de mail het intens droevige bericht dat McGee, de best denkbare uilenvader, er niet meer is. Wat er met hem is gebeurd zullen we wel nooit weten - een hond, een auto, electriciteitsdraden, er zijn zoveel gevaren op de levensweg van een wilde kerkuil  dat het een wonder is dat McGee en Molly drie nesten in leven hebben weten te houden. 
Het was een onvergetelijke en meer dan wat ook, vreugdevolle ervaring om van zo dichtbij te hebben kunnen mee-leven met deze prachtige wilde dieren. 
Ik ben verdrietig.

 Molly op haar eieren                      Het eerste ei is uit!                DeeDee alleen

Tribute to McGee and the Fourth Clutch,  March 12, 2012

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we are reporting that we have not seen McGee since March 9th, the day DeeDee hatched. We think he is gone. Last night, since McGee had not returned, Molly made the decision to go hunt for food, leaving DeeDee and the three remaining eggs to fend for themselves. We were expecting the second egg to hatch anytime, in fact we thought we could hear peeping. Molly returned with a small mouse after about 45 minutes. All appeared well as Molly snuggled down on the eggs and began to feed DeeDee. We turned in for the night.

When we got up this morning the second egg was over in the corner away from DeeDee and the remaining eggs. Molly was not in the box. We could detect no movement in DeeDee as she lay on top of the two remaining eggs. It appeared that DeeDee and the two remaining eggs had gone cold while Molly went searching for more food.

When Molly returned with food she quickly placed the gopher in the pantry and checked on DeeDee. DeeDee showed no signs of life, so Molly gently lifted DeeDee and placed her away from the eggs. It was a very moving moment. She then lightly touched the eggs with the palm of her claw searching for the warmth of life. We could tell there was none as she rolled the eggs over and over continually touching them, not wanting to give up.

Tears came to our eyes as we realized that Molly is the only survivor of the fourth clutch. Happiness and sorrow are part of the Cycle of Life. The Way of the Owls tells us each day is precious. It also gives us the statistic that barn owls in the wild only live, on average, about two years and their young often don’t survive. Sadly, we have seen this statistic proven true many times this year with the Starr Ranch male, the Rancho Bernardino male and now McGee and the fourth clutch.

Donna and I will always remember McGee; what a magnificent barn owl he was. We have his photo in our living room with all our other family photos.

Carlos, Donna and Austin

P.S. After the sadness but before darkness had gone away, Donna and I walked outside. When we looked up there were two owls in the sky circling the owl box. We think they must have known. More than likely they were owlets from the previous clutches…or at least we like to think so.