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Photograph: Courtesy Ravensbeard Wildlife Center

This tiny owl rescued from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is all of us in 2020

The saw-whet owl was found hitchhiking on this year's tree.

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

Stop us if this sounds familiar: After being blindsided by an unexpected event, a vulnerable creature is confined to a tiny space for an extended period of time before warily emerging into a vastly different world to spend all of their time on the internet. 

Yes, in this case we may be talking about Rockefeller, the tiny saw-whet owl who was discovered on this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree after hitching a ride on the spruce over 170 miles from Oneonta, New York. But really, we could be talking about all of us over the last 12 months. 

Just look at these photos and try to argue that this little guy’s eyes do not capture a feeling that has quietly sat with you since mid-March like a hitchhiking owl on the branch of 75-foot Norway spruce strapped to a truck speeding down the Taconic State Parkway.

New York’s newest mascot is now safely recovering at the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugarties. (The center’s also currently taking donations!) It turns out, the tiny bird isn’t quite as vulnerable as he looks! It’s actually an adult male. Saw-whet owls are the smallest species of owls in the New York region. 

In a Facebook post last night, the wildlife center stated that “we’ve given him fluids and are feeding him all the mice he will eat. It had been three days since he ate or drank anything. 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.” 

It’s hard to argue that being set free into the world once again is truly the happiest ending to this tiny 2020 holiday miracle.

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