Owl rescued while building the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

Workers putting up this year’s Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City were quite surprised to see a tiny owl beneath the 75-foot branches of spruce. It was a northern great owl, one of the smallest species of owl in North America.

Adult saw teeth are approximately 8 inches long and weigh between 2.3 and 5.3 ounces. That is roughly between the weight of a tennis ball and a baseball.

Nobody knows why the owl didn’t fly away when the tree was felled and wrapped for the trip from Oneonta, New York to Manhattan. After it was found, the spouse asked one of the workers called the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, New York if they were taking owls in for rehabilitation. Here is the rest of the story from Ravensbeard’s Facebook page:

I replied, “Yes we do.” There was silence for a moment and she said, “OK, I’ll call you back when my husband comes home. He’s got the little owl in a box that’s stowed away for the long trip.”

I asked where her husband was when he found the owl. She said he works for the company that transports and secures the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

She lived about an hour south, so we met in the middle to make the transfer. Once secured, I looked into the box and saw this little face looking up at me. He / she was a little saw owl, the smallest owl we have in the northeast. All baby owls are born in the spring, so the idea that there was a baby owl in November made no sense.

Back at the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, we gave him fluids and fed him any mice he’ll eat. It had been three days since he’d eaten or drunk anything. So far so good, his eyes are bright and appear to be relatively in good shape with everything he’s been through. Once he checks in with the vet and receives a clean health certificate, he will be released to continue his wild and wonderful journey.

Our hearts go out to all the workers behind the scenes. Great job and thanks for saving Rockefeller!

A very capable owl

The center added a follow-up to the plan to be released to the owl:

Hello everybody! Thank you for your interest in this little owl and Ravensbeard. Your likes, shares, comments and donations are very much appreciated. We noticed a shared concern that the owl might return to where it came from in Oneonta, NY and would like to address this. Saw owls find a new partner every year and are resilient in finding safe places. This owl is grown up and very capable of breaking new ground. We believe transporting him again would be even more traumatic if he can be safely released here in the grounds of the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, which has several acres of trees to choose from. However, the number of sawtooth owls is falling. So if you’re interested, the avian society websites have plenty of information on how to build owl boxes to keep these precious creatures safe at home. Thank you again for your support and we wish everyone a Merry Christmas. -Raven beard

If you are able to donate to Ravensbeard, you can do so through PayPal.

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