This photo provided by Billy Newman Photography shows an owl nestled in a Christmas tree that belongs to Katie McBride Newman in Newnan, Ga. (Photo: AP)
A Georgia family got a real hoot from its Christmas tree: More than a week after they bought it, they discovered a live owl nestled among its branches.
Katie McBride Newman said Friday that she and her daughter spotted the bird on Dec. 12. They had bought the 10-foot (3-meter) tall tree from a Home Depot, brought it back to their Atlanta area home and decorated it with lights and, coincidentally, owl ornaments.
"It was surreal, but we weren't really freaked out about it," McBride Newman said. "We're really outdoorsy people. We love the wilderness."
The family opened windows and doors near the tree hoping the owl would fly away, but it didn't.
"The owl seemed to be pretty comfortable, and I thought, 'Hey buddy, it's not going to go well if you just stay here. There's no food, I'm sorry,'" said McBride Newman's husband, Billy Newman.
So the family called a nonprofit nature center for help. The Chattahoochee Nature Center caught the bird and helped the family release it.
McBride Newman said she believed the bird had been in the tree since they bought it, but was hidden.
"We think he was just in there hugging the trunk," she said. "It's a very dense tree and it was very fresh. That's why we picked it."