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Rockefeller the owl returns to wild after trip to New York City

The Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, which rehabilitated the owl found in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, said she was successfully released back into the wild.

WASHINGTON — The owl that was found in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was released back into the wild on Tuesday. 

The adult female Saw-whet owl, originally thought to be a male, was dubbed Rockefeller after it was discovered last week by a worker setting up the towering holiday tree in Manhattan. The Norway spruce was cut down 170 miles (275 kilometers) northwest in upstate New York and brought to Manhattan.

The bird was taken to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in the Hudson Valley, where she dined on mice before returning to the wild. The center said that the Saw-whet owl is one of the smallest in the northeast. 

On Tuesday evening, rehabilitator Ellen Kalish held the winsome raptor aloft in a field against a backdrop of rounded mountains. In a video posted on Ravensbeard's Facebook page, Rocky sits quietly on Kalish's fingers before winging her way over to a nearby grove of pines.

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

The center, a donation-based non-profit, also asked for financial help to "continue our mission to help birds like Rocky for years to come" with a link to a GoFundMe page.

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The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will be decorated over the coming weeks, and its more than 5 miles of lights will be illuminated at a ceremony on Dec. 2.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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