November 20, 2020
A tiny owl has become New York City’s Christmas miracle: The northern saw-whet owl—one of the smallest in North America—had stowed away in the boughs of a 75-foot Norway spruce that was trucked 170 miles from the upstate town of Oneonta to New York City to become this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, The New York Daily News reports.
He was found when the tree was unwrapped—and promptly captured the hearts of both the workers and pandemic-worn New Yorkers who were on the scene. But they immediately knew he should be brought back home. This was not a city bird.
That’s when the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, New York, was called into action. “Yesterday morning, I received a phone call from someone who asked if we take in owls for rehabilitation,” wrote the rehab center’s Director and Founder Ellen Kalish on Facebook Tuesday, November 16.
“I replied, ‘yes we do.’ There was silence for a moment and then she said ‘OK, I’ll call back when my husband comes home, he’s got the baby owl in a box tucked in for the long ride,’” she wrote.
The female caller’s husband worked for the company that transported the world-famous tree to Manhattan, and realized the feathered fowl had carpooled to the city from the tree’s home in Oneonta.
Kalish and the woman met up about half an hour south of the rehab facility to transfer the bird. After a few days of feast and drink at the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, the owl—now aptly named “Rockefeller,” according to the Daily News’ report—will be released to the wintery wild.
“So far so good, his eyes are bright and seems relatively in good condition with all he’s been through. Once he checks in with the vet and gets a clean bill of health, he’ll be released to continue on his wild and wonderful journey,” Kalish wrote.
Research contact: @NYDailyNews