When the world-famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree was installed this week, many were quick to comment on its suitability as the 2020 tree as, after two days on the road, when erected it looked a little worse for wear. The seemingly sparse tree was hiding a tiny little secret within its branches, however, as it was discovered that a small owl had hitched a ride to the Big Apple inside the tree.
While not quite the 2,000 miles The Pretenders sang about, a 300-kilometer (186-mile) road trip is no small feat when you’re only 20 centimeters (7.8 inches) long. The hitch-hiking owl had made the 23-meter (75-foot) Norway spruce its home in Oneonta, New York state, before it was cut down and transported to the Rockefeller Center where it arrived with a police escort.
The grand reveal, however, proved for some to be a bit of an anticlimax as after an exhausting journey the famous landmark was looking a bit bare, but the Rockefeller Center has insisted that the tree is actually as full as trees from the previous year and simply needs time for the branches to settle.
It was as workers assisting with the tree’s installation began rifling through its branches that our feathered stowaway was discovered, having been trapped in the tree without food for three days. The bird, which has since been named “Rockefeller”, had remarkably survived its journey without injury and after being compensated with an all-you-can-eat buffet of mice was reported by the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center to be in good health.
Saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) are small owls native to North America. They’re known to be partial to a dense conifer, hopefully demonstrating that Rockefeller’s currently emaciated tree has actually got some junk in the trunk. Saw-whets are found across the United States with population estimates at around 2 million, so Rockefeller should get by just fine even if he can’t remember the route back to Oneonta. They also select new mates each year, so it doesn’t really matter if this Christmas he gave someone his heart and the very next day got stuck in a tree and drove away. She’ll be on to someone new in no time.