By now you’ve probably seen images of the Rockefeller Christmas tree, which is about the perfect metaphor for 2020.
Despite standing at 75 feet tall and weighing 11 tons, the tree looks, well, sparse.
When it finally arrived in Rockefeller Plaza from Oneonta, New York, crews got to work to set up the Christmas tree.
While working on the tree, they discovered a tiny owl huddled against the Norway spruce’s trunk.
Ellen Kalish, founder and director of Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, said she received a call on Monday from a woman asking if the center took in owls. Her husband found what he believed was a baby owl at work.
When Kalish asked where the woman’s husband worked, she was stunned.
“She said, ‘At the Christmas tree in the Rockefeller Center,’” Kalish told The Washington Post. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I’ve never heard a story like that.”
Kalish arranged to meet the woman so she could hand the wild animal over, and when they met Kalish was again amazed at what she saw.
Not only was the owl not a baby – he was an adult male Saw-whet owl potentially in the process of migrating – but he was in very good condition for having traveled 170 miles over the past several days.
“He looked up at me and I was relieved to see that he was looking in relatively good shape,” she said.
Kalish brought the owl, appropriately named Rockefeller, to the wildlife center in Saugerties, New York, where he was given water and mice, and later examined by a vet.
Surprisingly, he suffered no injuries during his journey to New York City.
Many online have expressed concern about cutting down Christmas trees and destroying animals’ homes and returning Rockefeller to his original home, which is difficult to pinpoint where that is.
Ravensbeard assured those who expressed concern that transporting Rockefeller back to Oneonta might actually do more harm than good.
Saw-whet owls find a new mate every year and are resilient in finding safe places. This owl is a full grown adult and is very capable of finding new territory. We believe it would be even more traumatic to transport him yet again when he can be safely released here on the grounds of Ravensbeard Wildlife Center where there are acres of trees to choose from.
Thankfully, Rockefeller isn’t expected to stay at the wildlife center for too long. Kalish plans to release him in the coming days.
“I will wish him a very long and happy life — something we all strive for,” she said. “For me, it’s the Christmas miracle of 2020. It’s a pretty great story. I was honored to be of service.”
I’m so thankful for this man who saved this tiny owl! Thank you for looking out for him.