It wasn’t quite a partridge in a pear tree, but a worker helping set up the Rockefeller Center 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.
“I believe he did travel in the tree. I think when they wrapped it up, he must’ve gotten caught inside. The fact that he wasn’t squished or damaged was beautiful,” Kalish said.
Kalish said the bird is an adult male Saw-whet owl, one of the tiniest owls. It was taken to a veterinarian 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,” she said.
She said the plan was to release the owl back to the wild this weekend.
“Just to double-check our exam, we took him to the vet today and had X-rays taken. He passed with flying colors,” she said. “The vet said there are no fractures, nothing that would stop us from releasing him. We intend to release him this weekend.”
The tree, a 75-foot Norway spruce, 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.