A tiny “secret” discovered in the the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has captured the hearts of people across the globe. A tiny owl was found within the branches of the 2020 tree as it was being erected in New York’s Times Square. The Ravensbeard Wildlife Center is now caring for the rescued owl and shared the “rare holiday story”.
The small owl – a northern saw-whet owl – traveled 170 miles from Oneonta in upstate New York, unbeknownst to the workers transporting the 75-foot Norway spruce. But the owl, now aptly named Rockefeller, was discovered by workers when the tree was being unwrapped.
Ellen Kalish, the director and founder of Ravensbeard, wrote on Facebook how she came to get the owl:
“I received a phone call from someone who asked if we take in owls for rehabilitation. I replied, ‘yes we do,’ there was silence for a moment and 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.’
“I asked where her husband was when he found the owl. She said he works for the company that transports and secures the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.”
“She lived about an hour south so we met in the middle to do the transfer. Once secured, I peeked in the box and saw this little face looking up at me. He/she was a little Saw-whet owl, the smallest owls we have in the northeast. All baby owls are born in the spring so the idea that there was a baby owl in November didn’t make sense.”
Rockefeller was dehydrated and malnourished after three days without food or water, so Ravensbeard staff made sure he got fluids and “all the mice he will eat”.
They said he is doing well, all things considered. “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.”
Since sharing the story, Rockefeller the owl has gone viral across the globe. Ravensbeard Wildlife Center provided an update for everyone as to the owl’s progress and to what will happen next.
“We noticed the shared concern for the owl to be returned to where he came from in Oneonta, NY and would like to address this. Saw-whet owls find a new mate every year and are resilient in finding safe places. This owl is a full grown adult and is very capable of finding new territory,” they wrote. “We believe it would be even more traumatic to transport him yet again when he can be safely released here on the grounds of Ravensbeard Wildlife Center where there are acres of trees to choose from.”
They added that Saw-whet owls are dwindling in numbers, however, and encouraged people to learn more about how to help the tiny owls. “[I]f you have an interest there is plentiful information on bird society websites showing how to construct owl boxes to help give these precious creatures a safe home.”
Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve has shared a details on how to build a Saw-whet Owl Nest Box here.
To support Ravensbeard Wildlife Center visit their website.