Owl found in Rockefeller Center tree released back into the wild

  • In this photo provided by the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, Ravensbeard Wildlife Center Director and founder Ellen Kalish holds a Saw-whet owl at their facility in Saugerties, N.Y., Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. A worker helping to get the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City found the tiny owl among the tree’s massive branches on Monday, Nov. 16. Now named Rockefeller, the owl was brought to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center for care. (Lindsay Possumato/Ravensbeard Wildlife Center via AP)

SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — A tiny owl that was found dehydrated and hungry in the branches of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is eating its way back to good health and was set to be released back into the wild Saturday.

The adult male Saw-whet owl was dubbed Rockefeller after it was discovered Monday by a worker setting up the towering holiday tree in Manhattan. The Norway spruce was cut down 170 miles northwest in upstate New York and brought to Manhattan on Saturday.

The bird was taken to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in the Hudson Valley, where it was dining on mice in preparation for a return to the wild, tentatively before dusk Saturday.

“I just want to make sure he’s well-fed before he goes,” said Ravensbeard Wildlife Center Director Ellen Kalish on Thursday. “He was a little on the thin side when he came in. He probably hadn’t eaten in a number of days. So I just want to make sure that he’s at his best weight and health, and then he goes.”

Kalish said the owl is in “great condition” with no bone fractures apparent after an X-ray. She planned to release the owl from the center’s location in Saugerties, N.Y.

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