Contact details:

Marra Apgar

marra@raptor.id.au
ph: 0403 164 748
ABN: 41 202 286 336

Remembering Caleb Delamare

This weekend I particularly remembered a couple of friends who are gone. I remember them through the year, because they are missed, but this was the anniversary of the passing of Hillary, who was an old bird, and Caleb who was a young man. They passed within 24 hours of each other.

Hillary’s death made room for Caleb’s suddenly homeless Peregrine Falcon. Yozzie was Caleb’s best friend in many ways, seeing him through all sorts of strife, ups and downs. During their years together, Yozzie flew off and was lost twice while flying free for exercise, and both times the determined Caleb found him again. This is quite a feat, given how far a bird on the wind can go. Towards the end of Caleb’s life, Yozzie’s foot problem had flared up to the point he might have been euthanased. This contributed to Caleb’s sense of hopelessness at one point, but Yozzie had begun to heal. Caleb had begun to make plans to fly: to find homes for his birds and to travel the world in order to meet with raptor enthusiasts overseas. But a sense of frustration and unhappiness with life seemed to be hard for him to shift. I think he would have felt as if he had not achieved much in his life at that point. He had no idea how much he was appreciated and how much he would be missed by the community he was a part of.

Caleb Delamare

Caleb Delamare

Caleb was by no means expecting to go when he did. He would never have left Yozzie in his travel / roost box waiting for dinner, and “TNT” the Whistling Kite in his jump box likewise, or the Stimson’s Python he’d rescued from inside a car sitting in a bag waiting to be released. I was honoured to be able to tie up those loose ends for Caleb, to be able to see Yozzie through his bumble foot to health, to find TNT a home at Eagles Heritage, to pass the python to friends to release, to call his friends with his tragic news. It was the sort of news that stopped us in our tracks, made us feel sick to the stomach, to have to sit down and not speak for some time.

What we remember of Caleb is that he was meticulous and talkative. He was a brilliant researcher and sourcer of odd materials. He was also known to make great publicity for the raptor society that he was an integral part of. Being thorough, passionate, talkative and persistent came together to make accurate and interesting news articles relating to some of his rescues and the welfare of the Ospreys he loved. Caleb’s forthright character also caused some strife, but never for the people whom he respected: those who shared his passion for taking an active role in caring for native animals. On the contrary: his temper was very short with anyone who stood in the way of respecting and caring for those he chose to protect.

Here is an example of what Caleb was like. One day, I had someone drop off an injured eagle to me. I was at home without a car (since there is one between my partner and I). On exam, I found that this gorgeous Wedge-tailed Eagle had such severe injuries to his wing that he would have to be euthanised (put to sleep). He must have been in terrible pain, and I was out of pain meds (they’re not ‘over the counter’ and tend to be given on a per patient basis). I called Caleb, on the off chance he was in the area (he drove all over creation rescuing snakes from peoples’ houses, never mind injured raptors or spending days trying to rescue raptors that got trapped in warehouses). No, he was at home in Shenton Park. But he insisted on coming over to drive me to the vet – in Midland. That’s a 45 min drive one way. He came, and we took the poor eagle in to the nearest vet to release him from his misery. Then Caleb headed home (after a good chat, of course). By no means was he twiddling his thumbs waiting for me to call, though. He’d had to rearrange plans for this. And this was him all over: friend in need, no problems, he’d be there. Sometimes, even if the friend was a venomous snake he’d never met before.

Caleb wasn’t always someone you were glad to get a call from. He was well known for keeping you on the phone long after you wanted to get on to something else. 🙂 I recall him mentioning some extremely large mobile phone bills over the years. I’m sure being on a pension because of his thyroid disfunction made paying these back a challenge. But he knew everyone. And he had some amazing and hilarious stories too. He touched so many lives along the way: people who had found wildlife, other wildlife rehabilitators, people who supplied stuff useful for wildlife, musicians, collectors, people overseas who shared his passions. Lots.

Every once in a while, I come across someone who didn’t get the news. Not best friends or family. Just acquaintances, really. But people who were affected by his enthusiasm, passion and dedication. The reaction is the same: it stops them in their tracks, makes them feel sick to the stomach, feel that they have to sit down and not speak for some time.

Caleb will be lovingly missed for a very long time, by many more people than he would have imagined: for his personality, his dedication and the real contributions he made.