Thursday, February 12, 2009

RIP Hunter

It's been good news, bad news lately. Monday morning, we awoke to find our trusty pack leader, Hunter, had died peacefully in his sleep: so peacefully he hadn't even disturbed his blanket. Heart attack or stroke, we guess. He was probably only between 7 and 10 years old - as a rescued street dog we can't be sure of his age when he first joined our happy band. Following so close on the heels of 2nd Lieutenant Wilson's death late last year, it leaves us with a somewhat dysfunctional and leaderless pack. Buster is now in charge, God help us.
On a brighter note, Klientjie (the Third Stooge), who I thought had disappeared for good, came sailing over the horizon with Mr P. What a wonderful sight - not least because I can now look Dr L in the eye and tell him all his birds are safe and well. Mr P is quite a strapping fellow whereas Kleintjie is a mere slip of a girl - a very distinctive couple in amongst the crowd. It would have been a tear-jerking sight: Little and Large swooping toward the aviary, greeting long-lost friends then flying off into the wide blue yonder - were it not for the dead dog at our feet...
Good news, bad news continued: On Tuesday, Mr Forestry Officer invited us to join him in a Q&A session at one of the local universities. A very productive exercise, all in all. Later that day he presented us with a badly injured barn owl: broken wing, fractured skull, damaged eye. Unfortunately it did not survive the night. By coincidence, Wednesday we bumped into the Audubon Society representative who found the bird. Not content with the extent of injuries sustained when it was hit by a car, the local youth were trying to finish it off with stones; Belizeans believe that barn owls are the soothsayers of doom, death and disease, which brings their average survival rate down from 'not great' to 'not a chance'. We have another busy season of orphaned baby owls in various states of disrepair to look forward to. Ah well, out with the soapbox and the bullet-proof vest and let's begin the happy task of eradicating a thousand years of superstition.


  1. kids kill birds. they don't discriminate against barn yard owls in particular. If Belizeans hated, then the audubon representative and Mr. Forestry Officer would not care. The media even broadcasts stories about barn yard owls that are found in attics and lofts. THe audubon is normally called to take care of them. The soothsayer of doom is just nonesense.

  2. I am so sorry to hear that Hunter passed. I am glad he went peacefully though.
    Keep up the good work with the birds!

  3. What a handsome and distinguished looking fellow Hunter was. No wonder he was the pack leader. My condolences.

  4. Come on anonymous - you know as well as I do that Belizeans are taught from the cradle that barn owls are the 'devil birds'. This superstition goes back as far as the Maya and Spanish, and was probably perpetuated by ancient Europe tales of witchcraft. Forestry officers, Audubon representatives and their ilk are the exception and not the rule; many Belizeans wouldn't dare risk leaving a barn owl alive in case granny died later that year - the guilt would be unbearable. In the absence of appropriate education, children believe what their parents believe: superstition, religion, politics... whatever. The general lack of appreciation or respect for the wildlife of their country does not lead your average Belizean child to indiscriminately kill birds. You only have to see the apathy as they pass dying dog in the street to realise they are just not that motivated.
    And where on earth do you live to be able to say that "kids kill birds"? That is probably the saddest comment of acceptance that I have ever read.