Owl I want for Christmas: tiny bird found in Rockefeller Center tree

Helen Sullivan
·2-min read

It wasn’t quite a partridge in a pear tree, but a worker helping set up Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree found a holiday surprise – a tiny owl among the massive branches.

The little bird, now named what else but Rockefeller, was discovered on Monday, dehydrated and hungry, but otherwise unharmed, said Ellen Kalish, director and founder of the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, New York, where the bird was taken.

Kalish said the bird was an adult male Saw-whet owl, one of the tiniest owls. She said the plan was to release it back to the wild this weekend.

The tree, a 75ft (23-metre) Norway evergreen weighing 11 tonnes, had been brought to Manhattan on Saturday from Oneonta, New York, in the central part of the state. The tree is put in place and then decorated over some weeks before being lit for the public in early December.

The owl’s discovery may serve to spruce up the tree’s image after its bare lower branches and drooping needles drew comparisons to the tree in the Peanuts Christmas special, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The tree’s sorry state was also seen as a metaphor for 2020. But Rockefeller Center pushed back on the criticisms of its tree’s appearance, tweeting on Wednesday: “Wow, you all must look great right after a two-day drive, huh? Just wait until I get my lights on! See you on December 2!”

E B Kelly, a managing director at the real estate firm that owns Rockefeller Center said the tree was experiencing the normal effects of being transported 200 miles (300km), and that it looked just like the trees in previous years when they arrived. “It is beautiful and full,” she told the New York Times.

It wasn’t the only one. Kalish said that the owl was taken to a veterinarian on Wednesday and got a clean bill of health. “He’s had a buffet of all-you-can-eat mice, so he’s ready to go.”