A family in Atlanta encountered a regular Hoo-dini.
Katie McBride Newman and her two children, India and Jack, found an Eastern screech owl hiding in their Christmas tree, The Newnan Herald-Times first reported.
The bird, which was pretty thin upon its discovery, presumably flew into the tree when the family bought it a few days after Thanksgiving and lived there for over a week without anyone noticing.
And although some may think finding an owl taking up residence in their living room would be a total hoot, it terrified 10-year-old India, the first to notice the bird.
Newman told CNN that she was clearing dinner last Thursday when she heard India exclaim, “Oh my gosh!” from the living room.
“She comes very dramatically into the dining room and goes, ‘Mama, that ornament scared me,’” Newman said. “Then she bursts into tears.”
Newman told CNN that she’s a fan of owls and has about a dozen owl ornaments dangling from her tree. She walked to the tree and was prepared to tell India that she’d just gotten spooked by a holiday decoration. But when Newman peered into the branches, a living owl turned its head and stared right at her.
“And I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s a real owl,’” Newman said.
Unsure of what to do, Newman called the Department of Natural Resources, which directed her to local nonprofit Chattahoochee Nature Center, according to a blog post from CNC.
“I told her I would try and catch it and do an exam,” Dawn Ellerman, a wildlife technician with CNC, said in the blog post. “If it needed immediate care she would take it to a rehabber.”
Ellerman left the family with some food, supplements and advice on how to urge the owl back into the wild, suggesting the family leave the bird in a crate in a darkened room and open it outside after dark.
Newman later posted another photo of the owl in the tree after she had left the bird a plate of raw chicken.
“When I peeked around the tree to check on him, he hopped back up to his perch on the higher branch,” she wrote.
Ellerman’s advice seemed to do the trick: By 9:30 p.m. Saturday night, the owl was gone.
Newman did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment. However, she wrote about the entire experience on Saturday.
“Thank you for the honor you bestowed on our family,” she wrote on Facebook. “For making the magic & mystery of advent come alive in our home, and for inspiring connection among all who followed the adventure.”