NEWNAN, Ga. — Every once in a while, you might spot or hear an owl in a tree. But have you ever found one in your Christmas tree? That was the reality for one Newnan family recently.
"No joke, we just found a LIVE owl roosting in our Christmas tree. What?!?!?," Katie McBride Newman posted on her Facebook page on Dec. 12.
The Chattahoochee Nature Center said Newman's daughter spotted it first. They had other owl-shaped ornaments on the tree, so they didn't notice it at first. But then, the owl turned its head.
Among the lights and ornaments, you could see it sitting there. Since that day, she has been documenting "OwlGate" on Facebook, as they tried to encourage it to return to its natural environment.
"Hey buddy, you're a real owl in our Christmas tree," she says in a Facebook video.
"Owl Update: 7:15am - Last night we shut all the interior doors, turned off all the lights and came to initiate owl removal - and he was NO WHERE to be found. Gulp," she wrote. "So we opened the double doors by the tree wide and went to bed. At 1:30am, Billy came out to check, and was roosting on the tip-top of the STAR."
They contacted officials to help.
"OwlGate Update: kind and lovely Wildlife Tech from Chattahoochee nature center has advised us on how to “contain” the owl in a crate and what sustenance we can give him," Newman posted.
A video post shows them coming home for the day and they open the door for "the moment of truth". They walked in the house and the owl was still there.
That night, the "sustenance" turned out to be chicken! She posted a photo where you could see the plate in the tree.
She said the CNC sent a wildlife technician to the home to examine the owl the next day. They were able to catch the owl and put it in a crate.
CNC said on its website, they told the family how to release the little owl back into the wild.
"We owe so much thanks to the Chattahoochee Nature Center Wildlife team - truly good Samaritans who saved our Christmas Owl - please support them," Newman posted on Facebook.
On Dec. 14 Newman posted the video of them placing the crate outside. They opened it up and waited for the outcome. Eventually, the owl left.
"The Final Chapter: Bye-bye, birdie. Thank you for the honor you bestowed on our family - for making the magic & mystery of advent come alive in our home, and for inspiring connection among all who followed the adventure," she posted with a photo of the empty crate. " God’s peace to you as you make your new home outside our home. We hope to see you again. . . And to all a good night."
The CNC has some tips for anyone who finds a wild animal in their home. They said it's best to call a licensed animal rehabilitation professional or visit Animal Help Now for your local rehabber. They will help identify the animal and help catch it or release it.