As India was clearing the table in another room, Newman heard her daughter 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 explained that she's a big fan of owls (what are the odds?) so she had about a dozen owl ornaments on her Christmas tree. Because of this, Newman thought India had just seen an ornament. When she went to look closer at the tree, Newman saw the "ornament" turn its head.
"And I'm like, 'Oh, that's a real owl,'" Newman recalled as India ran into another room crying.
If that weren't crazy enough, there's a chance the owl may have been in the family's tree for over a week. Newman's husband, Billy, told CNN that they had purchased their Christmas tree two days after Thanksgiving.
In the hope that the bird would fly out of the house on its own, the family left their windows and doors open -- but the owl didn't leave. The next day, the family called the Chattahoochee Nature Center, where an employee instructed they leave out some raw chicken for the bird as she was concerned when the owl had last eaten.
On Saturday, the employee came to the family's house and caught the bird, identifying it as an Eastern screech owl. A spokesman for the nature center Jon Copsey told CNN the species of owl are common in Georgia. Billy Newman said the owl was pretty thin, suggesting their theory was likely correct: the bird must have been inside the Christmas tree since the day they bought it.
After the nature center employee checked the owl for injuries and gave it some food and nutritional supplements, she left the family with specific instructions as to how to return the bird back into the wild. The family was instructed to leave the bird in a dark room and release it at night.
The family left the open crate outside on Saturday at dusk and by 9:30 p.m. that night, the owl was gone. Despite this, Newman told CNN she believes she can still hear the owl hooting at night.