Status: Widespread resident throughout Ireland. The owl species most likely to be seen in Ireland.
Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population is currently evaluated as Secure.
Identification: Infrequently seen during the day, only active late at night. Most frequently seen flying across road in car head-lights. Appears a largely white, with a dark comma marking on the underwing. If seen during the day, has intricate pattern of brown and black streaks all-over. Has two obvious tufts on the head (do not serve as ears!) and orange eyes. Juveniles are beige, with an obvious black face mask.
Similar Species: Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl.
Call: Rather silent outside of the breeding season. Gives a rather quiet hooting display. Juveniles beg with a high-pitched squeak reminiscent of a rusty gate.
Diet: Hunts small mammals, frogs and birds. Has been observed taking migrant birds disorientated at lighthouses and other bright lights.
Breeding: Breeds in lowlands throughout Ireland, usually in a stand of conifers.
Wintering: Largely resident, though young birds will wander in search of new territories. During winter, may occasionally gather in communal roosts of between 5 and 30 birds.
Where to See: Widespresad throughout Ireland, but difficult to observe due to nocturnal habits. Best found by listening for the distinctive calls of adults and young.
Monitored by: BirdTrack and Countryside Bird Survey.