The beauty of Barn Owls showcased in a new children’s book

December 18, 2020
Barn OwlBirds of PreyFun & LearningNews

‘Golden Wings’ reveals the secret world of Irish Barn Owls


Working with BirdWatch Ireland, author Susan O’Donohoe has created a magical book on Irish Barn Owls, offering an insight into the secret world of one of our most mysterious and beloved birds.

‘Golden Wings’ follows the journey of a female Barn Owl from hatching to starting her own family, and all her encounters and experiences in between. The reader views the world through the eyes of ‘Golden Wings’, which provides a unique understanding of the lives of Barn Owls and the challenges they face in the modern Irish countryside.

Susan’s intimate knowledge of Barn Owls, and the fact the story is based on the latest research on Irish Barn Owls by BirdWatch Ireland, makes the book as informative as it is engrossing. The story is brought to vivid life by the illustrations of renowned wildlife artist Robert Vaughan and further enhanced with the graphic design by Sara Sirtoli.

John Lusby, of BirdWatch Ireland, commented “The Barn Owl is revered in Ireland. Its ghostly form and eerie calls are embedded in our folklore and the source of many legends and enchanting tales. However, the real natural world is often more magical and alluring than the fiction that surrounds it. This is the case with Golden Wings which beautifully portrays the bird behind the myths”.

He added, “Any child with a passion for the natural world will be enthralled by the journey of Golden Wings, and for those that don’t yet know it, this is the perfect book to ignite that interest”.

Like many other farmland birds in Ireland, the changing agricultural landscape has resulted in dwindling resources and suitable habitats available to the Barn Owl. Barn Owl populations have declined and although most people have never seen a Barn Owl in the wild, they remain one of our best-known and loved birds. ‘Golden Wings’ captures the innate interest that children have for Barn Owls and explores some of the reasons why they are so rare in the Irish countryside in a way that is accessible and appealing to children.

Susan O’Donohoe described how her interest in owls developed and why she wants to give children the opportunity to learn more about these wonderful birds, “The first day I saw an owl in the wild I fell in love. I saw a group of three Short-eared Owls one winter and my life has never been the same since. From that point on I began reading as much as I could about owls. Then I got a job as a wildlife biologist and got to survey owls and study their behaviour and also to help BirdWatch Ireland with their research and conservation of owls. I love to teach about owls which is why I wrote this story. I would have loved a book like this when I was a child and I hope that children enjoy it! I wanted to ignite a spark of interest in our native Irish Barn Owls as it’s only when we are aware of something that we can understand and care for it.”

Marie Mannion, Heritage Officer, Galway County Council said “it is hoped that by reading ‘Golden Wings’ that it will bring children on a journey of discovery of the world of the Irish Barn Owl, and how important the Barn Owl is and the threats and difficulties that they encounter just trying to survive. It is hoped that this story helps to increase awareness, knowledge and protection of this magical bird.” She also paid tribute to the author Susan O’Donohoe, illustrator, Robert Vaughan, graphic designer, Sara Sirtoli and John Lusby, BirdWatch Ireland for producing the beautifully written, designed and illustrated book.



Follow the links to find out more about the Author, Artist and Graphic Designer:

Author: Susan O’Donohoe

Facebook: Susans Wild World Email:


Illustrator: Robert Vaughan


Facebook: Irishbirdart @robertvaughanillustrations

Twitter: @robertvaughani1


Graphic Designer: Sara Sirtoli


Instagram: @diademadisara_design

Facebook: Diademadisara Design