Two juvenile snowy owls arrive in time for Christmas

Fri, Dec 7, 2012, 00:00

Dublin Zoo has received an early Christmas gift in the form of two snowy owls.

The sibling birds, which have come from Linton Zoo in Britain, are less than 12 months old, and so it is too early to tell whether they are male or female.

The Arctic birds, characterised by their striking white plumage, are one of the largest species of owl.

In the wild, they are typically found in the far reaches of North America and along the icy fringes of the Arctic Circle.

The pair arrived in Ireland last month but were held in quarantine for three weeks before being introduced to their new habitat at the zoo last Tuesday.

They are among the few birds and animals in it likely to bask in the relative warmth of the Irish winter, given that they can withstand temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees in the wild.

While adult males are virtually pure white, females and young birds have more speckled coats.

Harry Potter fans will instantly recognise the owl as Harry’s famous feathered companion, Hedwig.

Dublin Zoo said the owls were particularly gentle in nature with excellent eyesight, and a keen sense of hearing.