Snowy owls

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - OUTDOORS - SYLVIA THOMP­SON

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

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