Tiny Owl Found Stuck in the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Released Back into the Wild
Rockefeller "Rocky" the Saw-whet owl was released near Saugerties, New York, after receiving a clean bill of health from his rescuers, avian veterinarians, and owl researchers.
Rockefeller is back home for the holidays.
At dusk on Tuesday, the adult male Saw-whet owl, who was found caught in the branches of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree earlier this month, was released back into the wild by the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center.
The rehab center, located in Saugerties, New York, started caring for the bird on Nov. 16, after it was driven to the rescue by the wife of a man who helped transport Rockefeller Center's famous tree this year. The man found the owl tucked in the branches of the Norway spruce, which was cut down in Oneonta, New York, while setting up the towering tree in New York City.
"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. It was there for I think what was a three-day journey to New York City and wasn’t found until they released the branches," Ellen Kalish, the director and founder of the wildlife center, told NBC New York about how she thinks Rockefeller – or Rocky for short – ended up in his festive predicament.
The bird, part of the smallest owl species in the northeast U.S., arrived at Ravensbeard hungry and tired, but in good condition overall. After caring for and fattening up Rockefeller for several days, and after conferring with avian veterinarians and owl research experts, the center decided that Rockefeller was ready to fly free on Tuesday night.
Rockefeller was released near the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center by Kalish. After sitting on the rescuer's outstretched hand for a few moments, the little bird flew off on his own, quickly finding a new tree to perch in.