Many families across the world will be busy decorating for the holiday season. Whether that includes hanging fairy lights, lighting candles, or decorating a Christmas tree. One family in Lexington, Kentucky, even got a bonus on their tree this year, as it came with a free owl.
Michele White said that the family had decorated their tree as usual and had had the tree in their busy living room for four days before they noticed their little visitor. “I have three dogs,” White told AP News. “We use this room nonstop: watch TV; the kitchen’s right here; no indication.”
The star inside their Christmas tree turned out to be a little owl. Bobby Hayes, who was working as a carpet cleaner for his own company Magic Carpet Cleaning, was at the family's home and noticed the Christmas tree begin to move as he plugged in some equipment.
The owl was literally sitting on a lower limb here,” Hayes said. “It crawled up into the tree further,” he added, “It took me several minutes to even find it.”
After taking a few pictures to show to Michele, Hayes was able to capture the owl and release it safely back outside.
The owl is thought to be an eastern screech owl (Megascops asio), a common species all year round, found in woods and suburban areas where they will frequently use nest boxes. Despite their name, they have a call more like a soft trill or whinny than a screech, according to the National Audubon Society.
This is far from the first incidence of mystery guests in Christmas trees. In 2020, the Rockefeller tree was host to a saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus) that had traveled over 300 kilometers (186 miles) from its home in Oneonta in New York State. And, of course, if you find these growths on your Christmas tree, do not bring it indoors!