Remembering Owler #1

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Mr. Cromie holding a Great Grey Owl

The Alberta birding community lost a great naturalist and birder over the weekend.

Ray Cromie was a retired Sherwood Park school teacher and vice principal. He studied owls in northern Alberta for many years and in the 1980s he became a master owl bander.

I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Cromie, but many birders across the province had the chance to learn from his extensive knowledge about birds, especially owls.

Gerald Romanchuk, a member of the Edmonton Nature Club (ENC) posted this thoughtful piece on the Albertabird listserv and ENC Discussion Group remembering Mr. Cromie:

Ray was a long-time and very beloved member of the Edmonton Nature Club. He was a recipient of the club’s Edgar T. Jones Conservation Award and Nature Alberta’s Loren Gould Award.

Ray was probably best known as a owl and raptor bander. He banded thousands of owls over the years. Many Edmonton-area birders were lucky to experience Ray’s generosity. Hundreds of us saw lifers of several hard-to-find owl species directly because of Ray’s guidance.

Besides being an expert on owls, Ray was a very knowledgeable all around naturalist. He could just as easily talk to you about warblers, or butterflies, or plants, as the nesting habitat of Saw-whet Owls.

Ray was a tireless volunteer. He was always giving presentations to all sorts of groups. He led countless owling field trips for the ENC. The trips were always very popular. Folks got to get an up close look at the whole procedure of finding, catching, processing, and banding birds like Great Gray and Hawk Owls. His owl display at the club’s annual Snow Goose Chase was always a big hit with all the children.

But more importantly than any owls was the way Ray showed us, by shining example, how to be a great leader, mentor, and teacher. And how to be a good, generous person. And he did it all with an awesome and charming sense of humour.

If you’d like to learn a little more about Mr. Cromie, he was featured in an article from 2005 in the Edmonton Nature News, which can be found here

My deepest sympathies to Mr. Cromie’s family and friends. He will be missed by many.

10 thoughts on “Remembering Owler #1

  1. I saw the posting on the Albertabird listserv. Very sad news. I met Ray when he and some others from the Edmonton area came down to band some owls near Water Valley. He and Richard Chamberlain banded two adult Great Grays, three owlets and one Northern Hawk owlet that day. Getting to hold an adult Great Gray as well as a couple of owlets was an experience I won’t soon forget. Ray was a very knowledgeable and extremely nice guy, I’m sure he will be missed by many.

  2. Oh my, our Dearest Mr. Cromie…I will be so sad to tell my children of your passing; you were a favorite and such a loved teacher at Woodbridge Farms school; as a parent I will always cherish the love and kindness you shared with all of “our children”…I know that our dear lord will reward you for the kindness you shared with all who crossed your path….fly our dear friend to meet your hawk worthy of your banding.
    Kind regards to your dear family,

    Allison, Keegan and Chris Munn

  3. The staff of the Beaumont Library wishes to extend our sympathies to the family of Ray Cromie. Ray would bring in his owls for special events. We were always delighted to have him here.

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