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Stowaway owl found in Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

A crew moving the Rockefeller Center tree across New York made the discovery and immediately called wildlife experts for help.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is now standing proud in New York City, but the people in charge of transporting it found a stowaway -- a Saw-whet owl.

The 75-foot Norway spruce was being moved from Oneonta, N.Y. when the owl was found.

Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, N.Y., said it got a call from someone asking if it takes owls for rehabilitation. The woman on the phone said her husband's crew found the owl in the tree and that they had removed it and secured it in a box.

Credit: Ravensbeard Wildlife Center
A Saw-whet owl that was found in the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree as it was being transported in November 2020.

Ravensbeard, a donation-based non-profit, posted on Facebook that the Saw-whet owl is one of the smallest in the northeast. The center took in the bird, which it named Rockefeller, and gave him fluids and all the mice he could eat.

"So far so good, his eyes are bright and seems relatively in good condition with all he’s been through. Once he checks in with the vet and gets a clean bill of health, he’ll be released to continue on his wild and wonderful journey," Ravensbeard wrote.

Credit: Ravensbeard Wildlife Center
A Saw-whet owl that was found in the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree as it was being transported in November 2020.

The center noted there was concern by some that Rockefeller should be returned to Oneonta, but it said Saw-whet owls find a new mate every year and are able to find safe spaces.

"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," the center posted.

Credit: Ravensbeard Wildlife Center
A Saw-whet owl that was found in the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree as it was being transported in November 2020.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was lifted into place Saturday. The tree will be decorated over the coming weeks, and its more than 5 miles of lights will be illuminated at a ceremony on Dec. 2.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.