There was a stowaway owl in Rockefeller Center’s Struggle Christmas Tree

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In this, our most dumpster fire year, it feels sort of nice to see some evidence of the Struggle Christmas to come. 2020 has been absolutely awful, and there’s still a raging pandemic, with millions infected with the coronavirus and a quarter of a million Americans lost. I don’t blame people for wanting to enjoy Christmas, or for trying to create some happy memories for this holiday season.

Every year, Rockefeller Center puts up a massive Christmas tree and it’s become a huge thing, with a 30 Rock Christmas concert and a big unveiling of the tree in all of it’s Christmas-light glory. The problem this year is that the 30 Rock Xmas tree is a Struggle Tree. Fitting for 2020, without a doubt. I’ve never seen a tree this big arrive so bald and struggling.

People are comparing it to the iconic Struggle Tree in a Charlie Brown Christmas, where Charlie Brown and his friends decorate a mostly bald little tree. I don’t know… it feels right? It would have felt like an inaccurate representation of the year to have a full, healthy, beautiful tree.

Meanwhile, did you see that an owl was living in the 30 Rock Christmas tree? This poor owl was like “f–k you guys, I’M NOT MOVING.” The owl is being taken care of at a wildlife center and it will be released back in the wild.

Get that owl an agent! I would literally watch a Christmas movie about The Stowaway Christmas Owl. A big-city tree guy meets a pretty owl-rescue lady and they fall in love and the owl is their baby and they bring Rocky the Owl to the Christmas tree lighting.

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Photos courtesy of Getty, Instagram.

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42 Responses to “There was a stowaway owl in Rockefeller Center’s Struggle Christmas Tree”

  1. Roberta says:

    Love howls so much. Not that many beings manage to look so stern yet adorable at the same time.

  2. HK9 says:

    So what-you mean to tell me that paid someone to prance out to the forest, find the only tree that looks like it’s got COVID and say yes, let’s cut that down! The only good thing about that tree is the owl.

    • Esmom says:

      Lol. Actually I saw a “before” photo on Twitter and if it was real the tree didn’t hold up well on the journey.

      But regardless I agree that the owl is the best thing (other than it being displaced). They are the cutest birds!

    • GuestwithCat says:

      I tried to read your comment aloud to my husband as we sit here eating lunch. I fell to pieces laughing so hard and could barely make myself understood! 🤣. So very well said.

  3. Seraphina says:

    I called to tell my mom this story and she cut me off and asked: Could they have picked a sadder looking tree?
    Thank you for covering this story. My kids and I ooooooed and ahhhhhhed and it was a feel good story. I now want a pet owl. I love owls, they are beautiful.

  4. Katie says:

    love how they are presenting this as cute. this is not cute. you chopped a tree that was this animal’s home, you caused stress and disruption in its life and now you are not even acknowledging any of it? what a barbaric tradition with these trees. yeah, they are cute, but this was this guy’s house, what if your house got chopped off and you had nowhere to go? don’t you think it might have a hard time finding the right tree now? I’m sure they’ll take care of it at the center and hopefully let him out, and in the right environment for him, but still. not cute.

    • BB8 Squirrel says:

      I totally agree. This is not cute. All I can think of is the baby owls poor mom freaking out while her home got cut down and possibly other baby owls in the tree. I can’t believe we still go to upstate New York to chop down a tree where animals live when we can use a perfectly good artificial one.

      • Harmony says:

        To be fair, the owl is an adult. Owlets hatch in the springtime, and saw-whet owls just happen to be small and adorable. Not that it makes it okay to cut down his home, but at least he’s not missing his mama.

    • Esmom says:

      I felt the same way about this year’s Chicago tree. It was a beautiful, giant old pine cut down from someone’s yard IN THE CITY. They had just sold their house and decided to “donate” the tree to the city. I was like WTAF — in a place where green space is at a premium, let alone large pine trees, you decide to chop it down for a couple weeks of “glory?” It was insane.

      • CommentingBunny says:

        This is such a strange story to me! Where I’m from, you have to get city approval to cut down trees on your property, which you can get if it’s dead or dying. You can’t just cut down trees willy nilly!

      • Esmom says:

        Yes, it was a strange story. I’m pretty sure you need a permit in Chicago to cut down trees although people in Chicago are pretty notorious for doing lots of stuff without permits and not getting into trouble. However they did it, they clearly didn’t get into any trouble since theirs in now the official city Christmas tree. I wish the city would have just said “No thanks, keep it on the property so it can continue to beautify the neighborhood. ALIVE.”

    • TruthNMiddle says:

      Exactly! It was without food and water for 3 days because it was trapped in the tree. NY needs to find an artistic/more modern way to have a celebration instead of this. We have to evolve from tradition if we see it’s harmful. You know… like wearing masks.

    • Elizabeth Phillips says:

      Agreed! Why don’t they have a fake tree built?

    • Traveler says:

      Kate, I agree with everything you said.
      My heart breaks that this poor little creature has been ripped from his home. Just because he will likely be released again doesn’t make his transition back easy or even certain. I am sure he was terrified.
      Why kill a tree at all, especially the grand, old trees they have cut in the past. What a waste. NYC is full of incredible artists, I bet an amazing sculpture or a holiday art installation could be a beautiful and less destructive alternative.

      • SomeChick says:

        Instead of chopping down a majestic old tree, they could build an armature and have different artists decorate it each year.

        Great opportunity to showcase the many talented artists of NYC, and stop killing such old trees. I know most live christmas trees are farmed (which is arguably helpful in creating oxygen) but one this big would have to be very old. Bonus: less disruptive to wildlife, less fuel for transport, and so on.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      This owl is so beautiful. I just don’t understand people that want to interfere with wild animals (or hunt them). Let them be.

      Just as with the Christmas tree, if something is so amazing why do you want to kill it and chop it down? They are just going to fill it with fake branches anyway. Why kill a thriving tree just for looks when the looks don’t depend on it being real anyway?

    • A Fan says:

      Completely agree. I thought the same thing.

      [*This is not a cute story.*]

  5. tempest prognosticator says:

    Oh, that poor owl. What if it has a family?

    • MIBound says:

      That will be the next movie, of the owl finding it way back home. Of course, with the help of a young beautiful lady, who of course does not think of herself as beautiful, taking the owl back.

      • tempest prognosticator says:

        Or, the movie could be an epic adventure based on Homer’s “The Odyssey.” Not as warm and fuzzy, but appropriate for 2020.

      • Ann says:

        I like the original movie idea, except there should be some sort of conflict akin to “You’ve Got Mail.” Like he’s all let’s let’s cut down a huge tree every years and glitz it out because that’s what people want, and she’s appalled because trees and owls belong in the forest, and it gets resolved in a better way than it did in “You’ve Got Mail.”

  6. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    I want this movie to happen now. 😂 The owl is adorable!

  7. Aang says:

    The Owl rescue place said it’s not a baby. It’s the smallest species of owl that lives in the northeast. Not that it makes cutting down his home and driving him hundreds of miles away any less sad. Poor little guy must have been so scared and confused.

  8. MIBound says:

    It sums up 2020 in branches or lack of. I would totally watch that Hallmark or Lifetime 25 days of Christmas movie. Love it

  9. StormsMama says:

    Like the song Unbroken Chain by the Grateful Dead the “song of the saw whet owl” is truly special ♥️🦉💙

  10. J ferber says:

    I would vote for that owl to replace any Republican senator in 2022. I’m sure he would cooperate with President Biden.

  11. souperkay says:

    That would be a cute movie. The soulless 30 Rock exec in charge of the tree meets the soulful owl lady and he is convinced of the evils of capitalism and they become anti-capitalist animal advocates or something, with the tree owl glaring in the background, poor guy just wants to go home.

  12. Case says:

    My first thought when I read about the owl was he deserves an animated movie about his scary journey to the Big Apple.

  13. C-Shell says:

    Love the Christmas movie idea! While this is a cute story on first impression, I am having trouble with the displacement of wee owl.

    I learned from the Oracle (Twitter) this morning that those Rockefeller trees are turned into lumber, after they do their Christmas duty, and donated to Habitat for Humanity, so that’s a happier ending.

  14. LittlePenguin says:

    I asked my husband about the tree and he replied “Oh the tree I would buy so I would never have to get a real tree again?” I then had him read the story about angry owl and it has made his morning. Really, this story just keeps on giving to the Dumpster Fire.

  15. Giddy says:

    I think a children’s book should be written about this saga. The book could begin with the facts as we know them right up to when the wildlife center releases the owl to the wild. Then his fictional journey home could begin. I think he should meet a large dog, maybe a Lab, whose human family accidentally left him behind while camping. So the two animals journey together. The owl often flies ahead to check the terrain, but he always comes back to his traveling buddy and rides on his back. The two friends travel together through many adventures and dangers and finally reach the dog’s home where they are joyously welcomed. The owl builds a nest in a large tree next to the dog’s home and all is well. And that is a Merry Christmas!🎄

  16. wildwaffles says:

    This story had me howling with laughter last night. I could barely read it out loud to my husband. Before I got to the part about the owl, I commented that perhaps they were going peak 2020 and planned on setting it on fire at the tree lighting ceremony rather than light it up. The owl part made me awwww with the cuteness. I hope it is happy in its new home.

  17. ollieslom says:

    Poor little guy. They cut down his house and moved it to NYC with him still in it.

    That is a horrid looking tree this year.

  18. Jeanette says:

    I saw an owl just last week land in a tree over me. Never been so close to a wild owl(that I’ve know of) in my life. They’re my favorite bird and also terrifyingly creepy. Lol. It noticed me trying to spy it and the twists his head made were delightful.

  19. Anya says:

    Aww! What a cute little murder bird

  20. mish-mash says:

    How adorable…can we keep him ?

  21. Anna says:

    Hey at least NY has a tree this year, even if it’s a sad struggle tree!

    ~ A Sad Bostonian

  22. Marigold says:

    I love the sad tree. And I ADORE that owl.

  23. Lucky Charm says:

    “The Stowaway Christmas Owl. A big-city tree guy meets a pretty owl-rescue lady and they fall in love and the owl is their baby and they bring Rocky the Owl to the Christmas tree lighting.”
    Kaiser, you’ve just written the plot line for next year’s Hallmark Christmas Movie, lol! The big question is, will Aunt Becky try to get the role of the owl rescue lady? 🤣🦉🌲

  24. Triscuit says:

    Not cute. People need to stop cutting down trees for a ‘holiday’ and displacing animals from their homes, and trees are usually a major part of that. Humans don’t care, I know, but destroying the life of a tree and traumatizing an animal is obviously unacceptable as it is cruel.

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