Thursday, November 19th 2020, 1:39 pm - This year's tree came with a surprise.
A tiny owl is doing well after a three-day ordeal and a journey far away from home.
It had been living, peacefully, in a 22-metre tall Norway spruce in Oneonta, New York. The tree was then cut down and driven 3.5 hours away to New York City, where it will be used as the 2020 Rockefeller Christmas tree. The owl had gotten stuck when the tree was tied up for the journey, and travelled along, likely without food and water, for three days.
When the truck driver arrived in New York City and began prepping the tree, he told CNN he saw the bird, stuck in the branches and "staring right at him."
The owl, which now goes by the name Rockerfeller, is currently at a vet where he is said to be in good condition. He was not injured during his ordeal and is being fed and hydrated.
“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Ellen Kalish, director of the rescue centre that took Rockerfeller in, told News 12.
They found a small owl inside of this year’s Rockefeller Christmas tree, he hitched a ride all the way to NYC and is now being treated and cared for at a wildlife rehab facility. pic.twitter.com/f4PkBm6MGo— Allison Esposito Medina (@techladyallison) November 18, 2020
"But the fact he’s in such great shape is wonderful,” Kalish added.
Once Rockefeller has had all the food and drinks he can handle, he will be released back into the wild.
Saw-whet owls are one of the smallest owl species native to North America, with a mass of around 100 grams.
And while they aren't endangered, the story underscores how human activity can put wild animals in harm's way. Officials haven't said when or where Rockefeller will be released, but he will likely be transported to a forested area, where his species thrives.
This isn't the first time Rockefeller tree has been in the news this year. Last week, it was criticized by The Washington Post for its 'scraggly' appearance.