One of my daughters was given a snowy owl soft toy as a gift when she was younger. You could put your hand inside and spread its wings out in imaginary flight. That’s the closest we’ve ever got to these beautiful large white owls. They are a rare visitor to Ireland in the winter months and when they do arrive from their Arctic homes, they tend to stay along the west coast, mainly in Co Mayo.
The adult males are pure white, but the adult females are white with short black-brown lines on their wings and body. Snowy owls tend to remain silent when roosting on Irish bogs, and only hoot when in flight. There have been sightings in Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Fermanagh in the past few years, according to records held by irishbirding.com.
Although they might linger here until late spring, snowy owls don’t breed in Ireland. Throughout Europe, they are considered rare, with fewer than 10,000 breeding pairs across Scandinavia and Russia.
Snowy owls tend to remain silent when roosting on Irish bogs, and only hoot when in flight
When in Ireland, they tend to stay along the west coast, mainly in Co Mayo. PHOTOGRAPH: EDUCATION IMAGES/UIG VIA GETTY