A small owl was found in the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Published: December 4, 2020

owl found in Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Photo courtesy of cbc.ca.

This year an unexpected live ornament was found in New York City’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree: a small owl, who has appropriately been named Rockefeller. When the owl was found by one of the people helping to put up the tree, they realized the little owl wasn’t flying away, so they contacted Ravensbeard Wildlife Center for assistance.

After Ellen Kalish, from Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, had time to access Rockefeller she said it’s a, “sheer Christmas miracle, nothing was broken [on the owl].”

Although it isn’t clear exactly how Rockefeller ended up in the tree, there are a couple of possibilities. It’s possible that Rockefeller became a little hitchhiker somewhere along the 270 kilometre route the tree travelled going from Oneonta, New York to Manhattan, New York. It’s also possible that Rockefeller was in the tree when it was originally felled and had no choice but to stay after it was wrapped up. Kalish is leaning slightly closer to the latter being true as Rockefeller was hungry and dehydrated when they got her.

It has been suggested that the owl could have flown into the tree once it was already in New York City, but Kalish doesn’t think that is very likely due to, “all the construction and lights. It would not be a place an owl would seek to hide”.

Rockefeller is a saw-whet owl, the smallest owl species in the northeast. She is about 12 centimetres tall, and weighed in at 2.5 ounces. Kalish said that after Rockefeller has time to replenish her fluids, eat all the mice she wants, and gets some rest, she will have no problem making a return to the wild.

Thankfully, Rockefeller doesn’t need to make the full 270 kilometre trip back to where the rescue suspects she came from. She will be released into a forest near Saugertries, New York, which is where the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center is located.

If you have read other articles about Rockefeller, you might have noted that Rockefeller is mostly referred to as “he” but in this article we are using “she”. Male saw-whet owls are normally smaller than females; males typically weigh in at about 75 grams whereas females normally get closer to 100 grams. Given the fact that Rockefeller weighed in at 70 grams it was presumed that the owl was a male, but after further inspection it turned out she was, in fact, female.

Sex aside, we are just happy Rockefeller came out of her unexpected adventure safely and is able to make a full return to her wild life.

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