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Tiny Owl Rescued from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Is Returned to the Wild

Manuela Cardiga
Nov 28, 2020
04:30 A.M.

The tiny owl which hitched a ride inside the 75-foot Norway spruce destined to be the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center has been returned to the wild.


Workmen setting up the world-famous Christmas tree at New York City's Rockefeller Center discovered a tiny own roosting in the branches of the giant evergreen.

The owl, later identified as a Northern saw-whet owl, was apparently transported to New York in the branches of the 75-foot Norway spruce which had been harvested in Oneonta, New York, some 170 miles away.

Rockefeller the Owl | Source: Ravensbeard Wildlife Center/ Facebook

Rockefeller the Owl | Source: Ravensbeard Wildlife Center/ Facebook


On November 16, the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, New York received a phone call from the wife of one of the workmen responsible for the erection of the tree at Rockefeller Center asking them if they rescued "baby owls."

When the center's wildlife rescuers saw the owl they realized that it wasn't a "baby" at all, but a northern saw-whet owl, one of the smallest owl species in North America.


After vets considered Rocky to be in good health, she was released back into the wild.


The experts believe that the owl, nicknamed Rockefeller or Rocky, had been following the species' usual behavior, roosting in the branches of the Norway spruce while it rested during its migration. The director of Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, Ellen Kalish said:

"What I suspect was that it was in the tree when they cut it down and it probably got trapped when they wrapped the tree in some of the branches."


Miraculously, tiny Rocky had survived the fall of the spruce and trapped between the branches, traveled with it to New York. For the three to four days, Rocky had no food or water.

Veterinarians at the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center verified that Ricky was severely dehydrated, but otherwise in surprisingly good health considering what she had been through.



That's right, even though everyone had presumed Rocky to be a male, it turned out that the tiny owl is in fact an adult female. After vets considered Rocky to be in good health, she was released back into the wild.

Rocky was taken to the vicinity of a stand of conifers in Saugerties at dusk and flew to freedom from Ellen Kalish's hand. Rocky will hopefully continue her migration south with no more interruptions.



It seems as if the most exciting thing about the Rockefeller Christmas tree this year may turn out to be Rocky's unexpected appearance. This year's tree, a 75-foot tall, 11-ton Norway spruce seems to be disappointing New Yorkers.

Several snaps of the tree have been shared on social media, many with mocking comments attributing the sparse branches to the harsh, turbulent 2020 we've all lived through.

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