In 2020, the smallest owl in the Northeast became a symbol of resilience and hope after surviving a 170-mile road trip inside the biggest Christmas tree in the world. The 7-inch Northern Saw-whet Owl was discovered by crew members as they were raising the 75-foot Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
Dehydrated and starving, the owl was rescued and rushed to Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, located in the Hudson Valley. Ravensbeard, which specializes in rehabilitating birds of prey, discovered that the owl was in fact a female and gave her the name “Rocky.” After a week of medical examinations and lots of mice, Ravensbeard gave Rocky flight clearance. And on a cool November evening, rehabbers released the little bird back into her natural habitat. She flew beautifully. Amid the dark days of the global pandemic, the story went viral and warmed hearts all over the world. It even became the subject of a New York Times best-selling children’s book, The Christmas Owl.
When Rocky arrived at Ravensbeard, the organization did not have a permanent home, but this fall, that changed when the group moved to a new site in Saugerties, New York. It sits on 14 acres, where Ravensbeard can build “a proper facility with 10 flight cages,” says spokesperson Matt Kalish. “We moved last month and have several temporary cages for the moment. We will have the ability to host lectures and school groups to visit and meet our educational birds, by appointment only.”
Now, Ravensbeard is raising funds to build permanent enclosures for the wildlife they care for. To help raise funds, the organization created a Christmas tree ornament to honor Rocky the Owl, so that supporters can have a little owl in their Christmas tree.
The ornament is for sale at Ravensbeard.org for $32. All of the proceeds go to the nonprofit organization, helping it to continue its mission of providing wildlife rehabilitation for injured, ill, and orphaned animals to return them to the wild. And if you can’t get enough of Rocky merch, Ravensbeard also sells mugs, clothing, and other items with her image on them.