Christmas Owl Surprises Family

A Newnan home received a unique Christmas gift last week, when a live owl turned up in their tree.

“No joke, we just found a LIVE owl roosting in our Christmas tree. What?!?!?” said Katie Newman, Dec. 12 on Facebook.

Newman said her daughter spotted the Eastern Screech Owl squatting in the tree among other ornaments. (There were many owl-shaped ones, so it fit right in at first). When the “ornament” turned its head to watch Newman’s daughter, they knew something was off.  

An Eastern Screech Owl perched on a Christmas Tree
Photo Credit: Katie McBride Newman, Facebook

Newman documented her owl story on Facebook as she and her family tried to get the owl outside through opening windows and shoo-ing it. When that didn’t work, she called the Department of Natural Resources for help. They put her in touch with CNC.

“She called us and I just happened to be driving past Newnan the next morning on my way to Auburn. I told her I would try and catch it and do an exam. If it needed immediate care she would take it to a rehabber,” said Dawn Ellerman, a wildlife technician at CNC. She caught and examined the creature, and said it looked healthy.

Since it is illegal to keep an owl as a pet, Ellerman was able to tell Newman how to release the tiny owl back into the wild.

“We owe so much thanks to the Chattahoochee Nature Center Wildlife team,” said Newman. “Truly good Samaritans who saved our Christmas Owl.”

Read more about the owl in an article at the Newnan Times-Herald.

The family in this instance opened their doors and windows to encourage the owl to fly away on its own. They called the Chattahoochee Nature Center and we were able to come help catch the owl, make sure it was healthy, giving it food and water, and give instructions on care and release.

Do not try to keep a wild animal as a pet, especially owls and other wild birds. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it a federal crime for anyone to keep a native owl who is not a licensed rehabber.

If you find a wild animal in your home, call a licensed animal rehabilitation professional, such as the Chattahoochee Nature Center, or visit Animal Help Now for your local rehabber. They will help identify the animal and help catch it or release it.

The Chattahoochee Nature Center’s wildlife rehabilitation department did a fantastic job helping the bird. As a non-profit, CNC strives to do what it can for the wildlife we see. Please consider helping CNC’s efforts by going here: Georgia Gives.