Amid the chaos of 2020, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree arrived in New York City this week to act as a beacon of light, illuminating some hope in an otherwise very difficult year. But it turns out that the tree also contained a precious cargo: a small owl hidden in the branches, discovered by the workers after their arrival.
Earlier this week, workers installing the 75-foot-tall Norway spruce found the owl and rescued it from the branches. A worker brought the owl to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, New York, for rehab.
A Rockefeller Center spokesperson confirmed the surprise gift under the tree for CBS News Thursday. The spokesperson said that while each branch is individually inspected before wrapping, “birds can find their way to the tree on their journey.”
Although workers believed the owl was a baby because of its size, the center said it is actually an adult. No wonder they called the Northern Saw Owl, one of the smallest in North America, “Rockefeller.”
Ravensbeard workers estimated that the owl had not eaten or drunk water for about three days as the giant tree traveled from Oneonta, New York to Manhattan. The center said it “has given him fluids and is feeding him all the mice he will eat.”
Rockefeller seems to be recovering well.
“So far everything is fine, his eyes are bright and he seems relatively in good condition with everything that has happened. Once he checks in with the vet and gets a certificate of good health, he will be released to continue his wild and wonderful journey. . “said the center.
Through its Facebook page, the nonprofit has so far raised more than $ 6,000 since it acquired Rockefeller. Ellen Kalish, the center’s founder and director, told CBS News that the money will go towards a new facility.
The tree will be decorated over the next several weeks, and its more than 5 miles of lights will be illuminated in a ceremony on December 2 at 7 p.m. No in-person spectators will be allowed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This story was originally published by CBS News on November 19, 2020 at 2:21 pm ET.