Organism Report

Ecology of New England


The Barred Owl




Barred Owl

Strix varia


General Information: The Barred Owl is a large (17-24") brownish-gray rounded head owl of the woodlands. This nocturnal, sharp-sighted bird of prey has brown eyes and does not display ear tufts common in most other owls. Its large eyes and ear hole placement allow for acute seeing and hearing in low light conditions. The feathers of the bird create a "barred" pattern across the chest and are streaked the length of the body. White spots can be found on the brown-feathered back. The beak on this owl is sharp and hooked as are its talons found on the feathered feet. The feathers of an owl, creating almost soundless flight, along with their sharp eyesight and hearing make them virtually undetectable to their prey.

Habitat: Barred owls can be found in woodlands, river bottoms and wooded swamps. The presence of mature tree stands is necessary to provide for roosting and nesting cover.

Range: Canada east of the Rockies and south to Honduras

Reproduction: Barred owls are monogamous breeders. The peak breeding period is from late February to mid-March. Nests are found in tree cavities or recycling old hawk, squirrel, or crow nests. These owls are not very good nest builders. Eggs laid in a nest constructed by a Barred Owl usually roll out and don't survive. After eggs are laid there is an incubation period of approximately 28 days. Young hatchlings appear around mid-April from a clutch of 2-3 dull white eggs.

Interesting Fact: The Barred Owl's hooting is much more persistent than the Great Horned Owl. Its hoot usually consists of 8 accented hoots in 2 groups of 4 which sounds very much like someone calling "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?"


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