Katie McBride Newman is a big owl fan. That is why the American, mother of two, had decorated the Christmas tree with a dozen owl ornaments this year. Nothing really to be feared, she thought. But then her daughter India screamed while looking into the tree: "Oh my god! This ornament scares me!" The girl burst into tears.
McBride Newman wanted to know what the ten-year-old was afraid of, looked - and saw a bird staring at her. "Oh, there's a real owl," she said. India had disappeared into her room crying.
The animal must have spent almost two weeks with the Georgia family, CNN reports. The Newmans had therefore bought the Christmas tree in a shop in late November, twelve days before the discovery. The first attempt to get rid of the animal was therefore unsuccessful. The family left the windows open overnight and hoped the owl would fly out. But she stayed seated.
The next day, I called the Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC), a non-profit environmental organization. A first piece of advice to the freshly baked owl parents: give the animal raw chicken, it is sure to be hungry.
"It was surreal, we really freaked out"
On Saturday a CNC employee came by and caught the owl, gave it something to eat and examined it. It is an Eastern Screech Owl, CNN quotes a spokesman for the environmental organization. This species is common in Georgia. "The owl was quite thin," says family man Billy Newman, according to the CNN. So it was quite likely that she was already sitting in the tree when the family bought him.
"But how can it be that they didn't notice the owl in the tree?" Asks a Facebook user under the post by Katie McBride Newman. "It is a very dense tree and it was very fresh," says McBride Newman, according to the British Guardian. That's why they chose him. "It was surreal, we really freaked out."
McBride Newman describes herself and her family as nature fans and outdoor people. "We love the wild." The animal should also go back there.
The CNC employee put the owl in a cage and gave one last instruction. The McBride Newmans were supposed to put the cage in a dark room, take it outside after dark, and open the grille there. They did this. When they checked again at half past nine, the owl was gone.