A tiny owl is back in the wild after an eventful two weeks that included a trip to Manhattan and a sojourn in a wildlife center where she was given all the mice she could eat. Rocky, an adult female saw-whet owl, was found in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree after the Norway spruce was transported 170 miles to New York City. She hadn't eaten or had anything to drink in three days. Rocky was released at dusk Tuesday from the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, where she had been treated for several days, the BBC reports. The Hudson Valley center had originally planned to release Rocky on Saturday, but veterinarians and owl experts advised them to let the owl recover her strength for a few more days.
Saw-whet owls are the smallest owls in the US northeast. The males tend to be smaller than the females and experts originally thought Rocky was a male before realizing she was an underweight female. Ellen Kalish, the center's founder, freed Rocky on a ridge overlooking the Catskill Mountains, where the bird stayed perched on Kalish's hand for a time before flying over to a tree, the Daily Freeman reports. "Rocky's release was a success!" the center said in a Facebook post. "She is a tough little bird and we're happy to see her back in her natural habitat." (Read more Rockefeller Center stories.)