By Ellen Kalish (Founder and Executive Director of Ravensbeard Wildlife Center), posted on 23 October 2023
Who We Are
Founded in 2000, the nonprofit Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, NY, rescues and rehabilitates orphaned, injured, and compromised animals – primarily birds – in upstate New York. In addition to returning animals to their rightful place in nature, we promote community awareness, education, and appreciation for the natural circle of life. The Ravensbeard Wildlife team has worked tirelessly over the past 23 years, caring for thousands of patients. Last year alone we rehabilitated roughly 400 animals, and worked with local medical professionals to ensure animals are placed in appropriate environments for healing. Ravensbeard staff and volunteers are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because wildlife emergencies happen at any time.
Ellen with a Barred Owl (Strix varia).
Ravensbeard is also home to eight birds that cannot be released back into their natural habitats. These birds serve as ambassadors in wildlife education through Ravensbeard Wildlife Community Programs. Through in-school assemblies and events, students and adults alike learn about the environment, the interconnectedness of all life, and our reliance on each other for long-term survival. In the previous twelve months, our community education programs reached over 3,300 people who joined us in our dedication to the cause of mutual respect and loving-kindness between humans and wildlife, especially birds!
Rocky the Owl’s release.
A Surprise in the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
In the winter of 2020, I received a phone call from someone asking whether we take owls in for rehabilitation. I replied, “Yes, we do.” There was silence for a moment and then the caller said “OK, I’ll call back when my husband comes home, he’s got the baby owl in a box, tucked in for the long ride.” I asked where her husband had found the owl. She said that he worked for the company that transports and secures the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center! She lived about an hour south, so we met in the middle to make the transfer. Once secured, I peaked in the box and saw a little face looking up at me. She was a little Saw-Whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus), the smallest owl species we have in the northeast.
Back at Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, we gave her fluids and fed her all the mice she would eat. It had been roughly three days since she had last eaten or drunk anything. So far so good. Her eyes were bright and she seemed in relatively good condition, considering all she had been through. We took her to the vet and received a clean bill of health, and she was then ready for release, to continue her wild and wonderful journey! Rocky was released at dusk so that she could hide from the diurnal alarm birds in the forest. It was a perfect release…she sat on my hand for a few minutes, scoped out her surroundings and flew gracefully to the nearest pine tree for more photo opportunities. About five minutes later, she flew away – free!
Ellen and Rocky the Owl!
The story of Rocky the Owl “flew” around the world! Folks all across the globe heard about the little owl in the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and wanted to know more.
To help fund our nonprofit work, and create more success stories like Rocky, we created Rocky the Owl holiday ornaments. Now, everyone can experience the joy of having that little owl in their tree or in their home this holiday season. Please consider helping us fund our work this season by purchasing one of our adorable ornaments. All proceeds go directly to helping birds and wildlife, just like Rocky!
Get your Rocky the Owl ornament today!
Visit our website at www.ravensbeard.org to learn more, purchase your ornament or other Rocky paraphernalia, and help us continue to save wildlife!
Warm regards and happy holidays,
Director and Founder
Ravensbeard Wildlife Center
P.O. Box 485, Saugerties, NY 12477