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Snowy owl causes a stir

PUBLISHED: 11:20 25 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:43 03 March 2010

TWITCHERS were given a rare treat last night after a snowy owl was seen nestled on the roof of a house in Suffolk - but mystery surrounds where it came from.

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TWITCHERS were given a rare treat last night after a snowy owl was seen nestled on the roof of a house in Suffolk – but mystery surrounds where it came from.

It is not known if the large white bird – which has some dark barrings, yellow eyes and beak and black claws – is wild or a captive one which has escaped.

The owl, which was spotted on the rooftop of a house in Orford Road, Felixstowe, yesterday afternoon, is native to the cold, hostile terrain of the Arctic tundra, but on extremely rare occasions has found its way to mainland Britain.

Firefighters were called to the area at about 5pm following reports of the animal being in distress. Onlookers said the bird appeared to be covered in oil. But crews failed to catch the bird which later flew to the roof of a house in Tacon Road.

A spokesman for Suffolk Fire Service said efforts to capture the animal seemed to be causing it even more distress.

The RSPCA are not believed to have been called in to rescue the owl but a spokesman said: "Sometimes you will actually cause a bird more distress by trying to catch it and the best thing might be to leave it alone as it can sometimes preen itself. Whether that is true in this case we can't say without one of our inspectors seeing the bird.

"They are not very tame creatures and, providing there are no serious welfare problems, hopefully it will look after itself."

Commercial trade of the species is regulated by international law to prevent it from becoming endangered. It is a predatory feeder living off small mammals especially lemmings, birds, fish and small marine mammals. Its broad rounded wings enable the bird to travel great distances.

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