Owl found in Rockefeller Center Christmas tree could take flight soon

NEW YORK -- 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 is set to be released soon.

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 (275 kilometers) northwest in upstate New York and brought to Manhattan on Saturday.

RELATED: The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree's 89 years of history

The bird was taken to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in the Hudson Valley, where it is 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," Director Ellen Kalish told the Daily Freeman 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 plans to release the owl from the center's location in Saugerties, New York.

"Rockefeller is doing very well," the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center said in a statement. "He has been moved to an outdoor location so that he can acclimate to the weather."

The center said locations are being scouted for Rockefeller and the bird will be released Sunday or Monday.
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