NEWNAN, Ga. (CBS Local) — A Georgia family got a big surprise last week after discovering an owl living in their Christmas tree.

Katie McBride Newman said her 10-year-old daughter, India, had started to clear the table after dinner last Thursday and was in another room when she heard her exclaim, “Oh my gosh!”

“She comes very dramatically into the dining room and goes, ‘Mama, that ornament scared me,'” Newman told CNN. “Then she bursts into tears.”

Newman loves owls and she’s got about a dozen owl ornaments on her tree, so at first, she thought India had just been spooked by one of those. But when she peered into the tree, she saw the owl turn its head and look straight at her.

“And I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s a real owl,'” Newman said.

Newman shared several images and videos of the eastern screech owl on Facebook.

Based on the owl’s thin size, experts say it may have been hiding in the tree since the family brought it to their home in Newnan a couple days after Thanksgiving.

Otherwise, the owl seemed to be in pretty good health and uninjured.

The family fed it raw chicken and gave it water while waiting for an expert to come help them return it to its natural habitat.

Eventually, they were able to box the owl up and release it into the wild. But Newman said doesn’t think the visitor flew too far away. She swears she can hear the it hooting at night.