Oneonta owl found in Rockefeller Christmas tree inspires a children’s book

A little owl from Upstate New York has inspired a new children’s holiday story.

“The Christmas Owl,” written by Ravensbeard Wildlife Center executive director Ellen Kalish with Gideon Sterer and illustrations by Ramonta Kaulitz, recounts the “True Story of a Little Owl Named Rockefeller.” A petite saw-whet owl was found in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree last year, after apparently getting caught in the 75-foot Norway spruce when it was cut down in Oneonta, N.Y., last year.

Pictures of the owl, named Rockefeller (or “Rocky” for short), went viral as some called it a “Christmas miracle.” The bird was dehydrated and hungry but otherwise unharmed; she was released back into the wild after getting treated at the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties.

The book includes an illustrated map of Rocky’s journey from Oneonta to New York City to Saugerties, and adds a few animal friends along the journey, including a talking moose, rabbit and squirrel.

“When Little Owl’s home is cut down by people saying it will make a beautiful Christmas tree, she’s not sure she wants anything to do with Christmas, whatever that means. But then she is saved by a woman named Ellen, whose house is merrily decorated for the holiday, and filled with birds who need someone to care for them. Surrounded by kindness and helpful new friends, Little Owl begins to wonder if Christmas might not be such a bad thing after all,” the book’s description says.

This image provided by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers shows ‘The Christmas Owl,’ a new children’s holiday book about an owl from Oneonta, N.Y., that was found in NYC’s Rockefeller Christmas tree.

“The Christmas Owl: Based On True Story of a Little Owl Named Rockefeller,” released last month by Little, Brown Young Readers, is currently available on Amazon and other book retailers.

The real-life owl has also inspired several other books, plus a “Rockefeller” bobblehead at the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, and a Rocky Christmas Ornament to benefit the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center.

The 2021 Rockefeller Christmas tree hasn’t inspired any holiday tales yet, but does have a unique story. The 79-foot-tall Norway spruce from Elkton, Maryland, will be the first tree from Maryland in nearly nine decades of the annual NYC tradition. It’s scheduled to be cut down on Thursday and arrive in Rockefeller Center on Saturday.

The Associated Press reports the tree will be covered with about 5 miles of wire holding more than 50,000 multi-colored lights, and topped with a 900-pound star covered in 3 million Swarovski crystals.

This year’s lighting ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 1 and will be televised on NBC. After that, the tree will be lit daily from 6 a.m. to midnight. It will be lit for 24 hours on Christmas Day and from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.