On November 18, 2020, numerous outlets reported that workers setting up the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree found, and rescued, a very tiny owl. The poor owl, a full-grown saw-whet owl (the smallest owl species in North America), had been inadvertently kidnapped and taken on a very traumatic multi-day journey with the tree from Oneota, New York, to New York City. On said journey, the little owl had been deprived of food and water for three days. Although I do not have a picture of the particular owl that I can post on site, I will direct you to the following image gallery at DuckDuckGo.
(December 4, 2021 Note: I updated the heading structure of this article and added a section at the end with a link to a new New Leaf Journal saw-whet owl post.)
A Saw-whet Story
The New York Post reported that workers at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree site turned the saw-whet owl over to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center (see their account) in Saugerties, New York. There, the pitiful bird was fed and hydrated, and apparently it now “appears healthy” (see Ravensbird Wildlife Center Nov. 19 report).
The November 18 New York Post article quoted representatives for Rockefeller Center as suggesting that there was no human error involved in the tragedy-turned-heartwarming-story: “We inspect each branch of the tree individually before its wrapped, but birds sometimes can find their way into it on the journey.” One day later, the New York Post threw cold water on the quote it had published the day before, having consulted with unnamed experts who were of the view that the tree had not been inspected as closely as the Rockefeller Center representatives would have us believe, and that the owl had been wrapped for the journey along with the tree. The Post also spoke with Ms. Missy Runyan, who runs the Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center in Hunter, New York. Regarding the tiny owl that would have undoubtedly endured cold temperatures on its rainy and perilous journey, Ms. Runyan noted that the terrified creature, nicknamed Rockefeller, was quite lucky to have survived the journey without having been crushed by one of the tree’s hundreds of branches.
Fortunately, the worst was avoided, and the little owl, while likely traumatized for life, is in good hands now. It will hopefully be able to go back to living a normal, happy, saw-whet owl life after having given the world many priceless pictures of a confused, shell-shocked, and ultimately happy-but-still-confused small animal. Going forward, we can only hope that representatives of Rockefeller Center clearly identify how the owl ended up in the tree and figure out how to avoid any unexpected presents with the 2021 Christmas tree.
An Invitation to Rockefeller
Although I think that the saw-whet owl will be happy to be flying among the trees again, I must take this opportunity to note that our own Emu Café opens its door to wayward creatures of the avian persuasion. While we do remind all birds that they must uphold proper decorum, we think that Rockefeller the saw-whet owl looks more than well-behaved enough to not require any such warning.
Bonus: My Strange Owl Thing
In lieu of an in-article picture of the saw-whet owl in the article, I present to you my homemade wooden owl holder for light envelopes and stationery (I can only imagine). I actually do not have proof that it is homemade, for I found it left outside for the taking, but one look should disabuse one of the notion that it was professionally crafted or intended for commercial purposes. I will cover it in more detail in a future unique finds post, but for now, you can enjoy my peculiar carved owl to conclude this content.
December 4, 2021 Update
On December 4, 2021, I published an article about saw-whet owls generally, using old resources from Project Gutenberg and contemporary materials to cover all aspects of The New Leaf Journal’s favorite small owl. That article features a few call-backs to Rocky the unfortunate Rockefeller Center Tree owl of 2021, who was happily released into the wild shortly after the incident.