MIAMI – Frontier Airlines (F9) is well-known for emblazoning its aircraft’s tails with different animals. Most of the animals are endangered species or are native to the United States. Earlier this month, the airline announced it would be honoring one very special bird with her own Airbus A320neo – one that recently gained nationwide attention in the United States.

Annually during the holiday season, the Rockefeller Center in New York City displays a grand Christmas tree (usually a Norway spruce) in one of its plazas. This year’s tree came with a tiny stowaway in the form of a Northern saw-whet owl. The owl, nicknamed Rockefeller (or “Rocky”, for short) was discovered on November 17 by a worker helping set up the tree. She was removed and sent to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center (RWC) for rehabilitation.

Caretakers at RWC evaluated Rocky, and estimated that she had not eaten or drank anything in nearly three days. She was given plenty of fluids and mice while she was being cared for. “So far so good, her eyes are bright and she seems relatively in good condition with all she’s been through. Once she checks in with the vet and gets a clean bill of health, she’ll be released to continue on her wild and wonderful journey,” RWC commented.

Rockefeller the Northern saw-whet owl. Photo: Ravensbeard Wildlife Center

Return to the Wild

On November 24, RWC declared that Rocky was fit to be released back into the wild. Since owls are nocturnal, she was released at sunset so that she would be able to find safe cover by nighttime. By then, Rocky had gained a large fan following, so RWC recorded her departure for the public to later view.

Rocky’s journey eventually came to the attention of Frontier Airlines. “We’re always looking for new ideas for our plane tails and when we heard the story of Rocky, we thought it entirely befitting that this intrepid little owl be honored on one of our tails,” says Tyri Squyres, Vice President of Marketing at F9.

“Each of our animal tails has a back story and Rocky’s is extra-special. [She] will be remembered for years to come and [her] story enjoyed by thousands of travelers who fly on ‘Rocky the Owl.’”

Featured image: Rendering of a Frontier Airlines A320neo with Rocky the Saw-whet Owl on the tail. Photo: Frontier Airlines