January 2020 started off pretty great. We (Black Swamp Bird Observatory in conjunction with Detroit Metro Airport and Project Snowstorm) fitted this Snowy Owl named Buckeye with a transmitter. Buckeye had previously visited the observatory in 2015 and fitted with a transmitter, which became unreliable in the five year absence.
Not only was it unbelievable to see this giant, beautiful ghostly bird up-close, but I was able to give a gift to a special person in my life. My friend and mentor, Joy Roth, loved Snowy Owls. She watched Harry Potter with her grandchildren and become infatuated with Hedwig. With the opportunity to invite a guest to watch the transmitter being placed onto Buckeye, I knew I had to invite Joy. She sat quietly (the most quiet I think I have ever seen her!) in the room and she was filled with awe.
After the transmitter was fitted, we took the very small group of people by bus to watch Buckeye get released back into the wild. Selena from Detroit Metro Airport released Buckeye into a local farm field and Joy (and most everyone else in attendance) wept from the majestic beauty of watching this owl spread its wings and glide into the air. Joy thanked me over and over again for inviting her to this special event. She talked about it often to me. I was so glad that I was able to give her that gift and share it with her.
Joy passed away this year. I learned so much from her. She was a fiery, republican southern belle who loved her community. When Gabe and I went to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016, I brought Joy lots of gifts back. We never talked politics, but we did share the same love of our community and they brought us together. I respect her a great deal and will miss her.