NORTH Clare has a new animal superstar. A Snowy Owl, the animal made popular by the Harry Potter series of films, has set up home in the Burren, three thousand miles away from it usual habitat.
The massive bird was photographed by Welsh tourist Mark Lewis, hunting over Black Head near Fanore last week, but it is now thought that it has based itself in Clare since August.
Although Snowy Owls normally base themselves in Arctic regions, they are known to settle in warmer climbs on certain rare occasions and it is hoped that this owl has taken a shine to the Burren.
This is only the third time in more than 100 years that a Snowy Owl has been sighted in Clare – and in each of the previous occasions the animal did not make the county its home.
There is though to be a resident Snowy Owl based in Donegal, however the exact location of birds are often kept secret to avoid poaching. The birds are much sought after in collections and the price and demand for Snowy Owls has increased dramatically since the character of Hedwig appeared in the Harry Potter books and movie franchise.
Snowy Owls nest in the Arctic tundra of the northernmost stretches of Alaska, Canada, and Eurasia and sometime winter in south Canada and parts of Greenland.
It is understood that the Burren Snowy Owl was part of a large group which migrated from Nova Scotia in August of last year.
“This bird possibly arrived with those birds that left North America last autumn. I would suspect that this bird came into the Burren last October or November. They have an incredible range. This bird might just make the Burren its home. If it is able to get a good source of food and it likes the place,” said John Murphy of Clare Birdwatching.
“These birds are kept in collections and falconers and have because very popular since the Harry Potter films. People may try and capture the bird for breeding with their own captive Snowy Owls.
“A wild bird like this could be bred with a tame bird in a collection to create a wilder offspring. I’m not overly worried about this bird being caught because this one will roam so much that it should be safe.”
The bird was photographed by Welsh tourist Mark Lewis and his wife last week.
“I recognised it as a Snowy Owl when I saw it but I didn’t believe that it could be a Snowy Owl. Having photographed it I decided that it just couldn’t be a Snowy Owl in this location – but it was,” said Mark.
“I’m glad we got the pictures – because if we hadn’t taken the pictures no one would have believed us.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. Did we not have any snowy owls before Harry Potter, or were they not popular until Harry Potter? NORTH Clare has a new animal superstar. A Snowy Owl, the animal made popular by the Harry Potter series of films, has set up home in the Burren, three thousand miles away from it usual habitat.

    • There are two other recorded sightings of Snowy Owls in Clare, one in 2008 and another back in the 1910’s, but neither bird stayed in the area. So this is the first recorded time – before or after Harry Potter – that a Snowy Owl has made Clare its home.

  2. I am delighted to hear that a Snowy Owl has been sighted in the Burren, however I would just like to correct a few inaccuracies in the report.
    Snowy Owls are not kept by “falconers”. As beautiful as they are, Snowy Owls serve no purpose in the ancient art of falconry and never have.
    Snowy Owls are kept by bird or Owl keepers. I have no experience in breeding Owls or any other bird for that matter but I can’t see why breeding a wild Owl to a tame Owl will make its offspring any “wilder”.
    The greatest threat to whether the Snowy Owl stays around the Burren in Co. Clare is whether it will be allowed it’s privacy by the many bird watchers that will throng to see it once they hear it’s around.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.