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Rocky, the tiny Rockefeller Center Christmas tree owl, released back into the wild

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree owl released
Rockefeller Center Christmas tree owl release... 00:51

Rockefeller, the tiny, beloved owl rescued from the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree last week, has finally been set free. She was released into the wild this week after a week of rehabilitation. 

Rocky, as she has become affectionately known, was released by caretakers at the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center on Tuesday evening. The Northern saw-whet owl, one of the smallest in North America, was found by workers in New York City inside the 75-foot Norway Spruce that traveled some 170 miles across the state from Oneonta. 

How she ended up in the tree remains a bit of a mystery. A spokesperson for the Rockefeller Center told CBS News that while each branch is individually inspected before it is wrapped, "birds can find their way into the tree on its journey."

rocky-still-10.jpg
Rocky flies away from Ellen Kalish, the founder and director of the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, on November 24, 2020.  Ravensbeard Wildlife Center

At the wildlife center in Saugerties, New York, Rocky was treated for dehydration and hunger after an estimated three days with no food or water. The center said that Rocky was fed "all the mice" she could eat. 

The center said that it consulted with experts and avian veterinarians to ensure that Rocky has the best chance of survival after her release. 

Rocky was released at sunset so that she could find a safe place to rest by nightfall, the center said, before continuing to fly south. She was released in a conifer forest in upstate New York. 

Rocky's release was a success! She is a tough little bird and we're happy to see her back in her natural habitat. We are...

Posted by Ravensbeard Wildlife Center on Tuesday, November 24, 2020

"Rocky's release was a success!" Ravensbeard said on Facebook late Tuesday. "She is a tough little bird and we're happy to see her back in her natural habitat. We are sure that Rocky will feel your love and support through her journey south." 

Through its Facebook page, the not-for-profit has so far raised more than $17,000 since taking in Rocky. Ellen Kalish, the founder and director of the center, told CBS News that the money will go to a new facility. 

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