OK, trees might be the natural habitat of wild birds. But once you’ve brought your Christmas tree indoors, you don’t really expect to find our feathered friends have made themselves at home in the branches. That’s what happened to one poor kid in the US:
That’s right, a 10-year-old girl was left terrified when she found an owl chilling out in her family’s living room.
Little India Newman was admiring the Christmas decorations on the tree at her home in Georgia, when one of them unexpectedly turned its head to look at her.
India’s mum Kate McBride Newman said that her tearful daughter ran out of the room, shouting: “Mama, that ornament scared me!”
Speaking to CNN, she said: “She comes very dramatically into the dining room and goes, ‘Mama, that ornament scared me,’ then she bursts into tears.”
Apparently it was an easy mistake to make, seeing as Kate is a fan of owls, and so has about a dozen ornament owls on the tree – at first she thought her daughter had just been creeped out by one of them.
But when Kate went to inspect her daughter’s findings, the ‘decoration’ turned around and stared straight at her.
She added: “And I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s a real owl.'”
When they tried to work out how long the animal had been there, the family realised that they had bought the tree about two days after Thanksgiving (which annually takes place on the fourth Thursday in November), so they thought initially that it might have flown in.
To try and get rid of it, they left the doors and windows open, hoping it would leave of its own accord – but they got up the next day to find it was still there.
Realising they needed help with the creature, they contacted a local environmental organisation called Chattahoochee Nature Center.
One of the staff there advised them to give it some raw chicken, as it quite possibly hadn’t eaten for days, then called by to catch the bird. It was identified as an Eastern screech owl, native to the area.
The bird was checked for injuries and given food and supplements. The organisation confirmed it was thinner than it should be, prompting suspicions that it might have been hiding in the tree ever since it was brought to the family home.
To return it to the wild, the family left the bird in a crate in a dark room, before releasing it at dusk on Saturday, leaving the open crate outside. It had gone by 9.30pm.
Kate still thinks she can hear the owl at night occasionally.