20 November 2020 10:34

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Owl found in 2020 Rockefeller Christmas tree could’ve been ‘crushed’

So when this year's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree went up last weekend, maybe it made sense for some commenters on social media to pounce on what they perceived as the huge Norway spruce's unusually scraggly state, and to see it as emblematic of the year overall. On Twitter, users wrote that the tree looked like it "had cut its own hair" and had "just like the rest of us, really been through things." Another, echoing Brandwin, said it was "a metaphor for 2020." Although despair, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, the 75-foot, 11-ton evergreen that arrived in Midtown Manhattan this year after a 200-mile trip from upstate Oneonta looked the same as its predecessors had in past years when they were being installed, said EB Kelly, a managing director at Tishman Speyer, the real estate firm that owns Rockefeller Center. Workers had wrapped the tree tightly before making the long drive, Kelly said, and it would take the branches time to settle back into their usual position after the tree was unwrapped and placed upright. "It was absolutely beautiful," said Dick, who noted someone connected to Rockefeller Center had first spotted the tree about four years ago while passing through the Oneonta area and that others had visited regularly to check on it before it was cut down last Thursday. A message posted on the Facebook page of the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, New York, said that the center had been contacted by the worker's wife, who said that her husband was on his way home with the owl "in a box tucked in for the long ride." The tale of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree owl was spun as a heartwarming story more fit for Disney than NBC, but the little bird's terrifying trip was a dangerous error that should never have happened, experts told The Post.

The adorable owl — nicknamed Rockefeller — was lucky to survive after having its home cut down and then getting wrapped up in plastic for a bumpy 200-mile truck journey to Manhattan. The brown and white speckled saw-whet — which was found clinging to a branch Saturday as the tree was unwrapped — was not removed from the tree before it was cut down even though Rockefeller Center officials claimed they "meticulously" inspected every branch. "When it comes to wildlife there is always a bigger picture, it's not about an owl in a sweater, there's a bigger educational picture," said Missy Runyan, who runs the Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center in Hunter. The bird, nicknamed Rockefeller for its unwanted, temporary new home, endured blaring car horns and other foreign racket reverberating through the branches during the drive, a known stressor for owls. She said there's about a "50/50" chance the owl could've died when the tree was cut down and likely saved its own life in the process.

Aside from the saw-whet, Runyan said the 75-80-year-old tree likely had a slew of empty song bird and robin nests that'll make the birds homeless when they return in the spring looking for them. "Song birds return to their nests every year so those are the things everyone should be up in arms about because what you should do is check for any of those nests and if there are none that's a wonderful thing but you're supposed to check for those nests and move them to another tree," Runyan said. An onlooker at the scene told PEOPLE that a crew member working on adding new branches to the tree said that it was "normal" to do so Crews Seen Adding Extra Branches to Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree After It Was Mocked Online The 2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is getting a sprucing up! On Thursday afternoon, days after the famed tree arrived in New York City looking a little less than lush and was met with critiques from online commenters, spectators in the Big Apple noticed that it appeared to be getting some extra filler branches added to it. An onlooker at the scene told PEOPLE that a crew member working on adding the coniferous extensions to the tree said that it was "normal" to do so.

"This tree looks like 2020," one commenter wrote on Rockefeller Center's official Instagram post. After taking some heat, the 75-foot-tall spruce's guardians responded to its haters: "Wow, you all must look great right after a two-day drive, huh?" the Rockefeller Center Instagram account wrote back, adding, "Just wait until I get my lights on!" The tree spent two days wrapped up on a truck making the journey from its home in Oneonta, New York. Image zoom The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree | Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty