The owl that was found hidden in the Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree has been released into the wild, after $15,000 (£11,202) was raised for the wildlife sanctuary that cared for the creature.
Rockefeller or “Rocky”, as the owl was nicknamed, was released on Tuesday after a week in rehabilitation at Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, some 90 miles north of Rockefeller Plaza, in upstate New York.
The wildlife sanctuary wrote on Facebook that “Rocky's release was a success!”, and thanked those who had shared their support throughout the week.
“She is a tough little bird and we're happy to see her back in her natural habitat,” the centre added. "We are sure that Rocky will feel your love and support through her journey south."
Since the centre took the creature into care, some $15,000 (£11,202) has been donated to Ravensbeard, which was forced to relocate five years ago, said the centre’s director, Ellen Kalish.
“Ravensbeard Wildlife Center has been a refuge for injured and orphaned wildlife for over 20 years. However, five years ago the centre was forced to relocate. And since then has been set up as a temporary rehab shelter,” wrote Ms Kalish on the donation page.
She added that, as well as Rocky, “this year we took in over 150 birds – way beyond our capacity.”
Rocky, a small Saw-whet owl, was taken-in by Ravensbeard after workers discovered her inside this year’s Rockefeller Christmas tree.
Thought to be male at first, the tiny owl had travelled around 170 miles in the Norwegian spruce, which had been cut down roughly 80 miles southwest of Albany, in Oneonta.
She soon received a large online following, with fans flocking to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center’s page on Facebook, and posting about the owl on social media.