A Christmas Miracle: Small Owl Rescued from Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree After Traveling 170 Miles

OutdoorHub Editor: Keenan Crow   11.23.20

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was delivered to downtown Manhattan recently, and it was discovered carrying a stow-away in its massive branches.

The tiny owl – who has taken on the nickname ‘Rockefeller’ – was found by a worker for the company who transports and secures the giant-sized Christmas tree early last week. It was dehydrated and hungry, but otherwise in okay condition, said Ellen Kalish, director and founder of the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, New York, where the bird was eventually taken.

Rockefeller is an adult male Saw-whet owl, one of the smallest owls, Kalish pointed out. According to the Facebook post from the wildlife center, he’s fairly young, too.

The worker who discovered the little fella in the called his wife, who then called the wildlife center and told them they had a baby owl in a box for the long ride back home from Manhattan. This caught the attention of the wildlife worker, because baby owls are typically all born in the spring, so it didn’t quite add up that there would be a baby owl in the middle of November.

So somebody from the wildlife center agreed to meet them halfway to exchange the tiny Saw-whet owl.

“Once secured, I peaked in the box and saw this little face looking up at me,” the wildlife center staff member wrote on Facebook.

Meanwhile back at the center, the stow-away from upstate has been on the road to recovery, and could even take flight back to the wild this week.

“He’s had a buffet of all-you-can-eat mice, so he’s ready to go,” Kalish said.

What a hoot

The 75-foot Norway spruce that Rockefeller hitched a ride on was brought to Manhattan from Oneonta, New York. It will sit in New York City’s Rockefeller Center where it will be decorated and lit for the public in early December. And as an ode to the bird who once called the tree home, it only seems appropriate to hang an owl ornament from one of its branches. Just my two cents!