Web Analytics
The Ivory Bill·Birds·Hawks & Owls

Barred Owls, Strix varia

Barred owl perched on a dead tree trunk

Barred Owls are native to North America and can be found across a wide range of habitats. They prefer mature forests, including deciduous and mixed forests, as well as swamps and wooded wetlands. Barred Owls have expanded their range and adapted to human-altered landscapes, including suburban areas and parks.

Barred Owls are adept hunters and possess excellent low-light vision and silent flight, allowing them to locate and capture prey effectively. They primarily feed on small mammals such as mice, voles, squirrels, rabbits, and occasionally small birds. They are also known to prey on amphibians, reptiles, fish, and invertebrates.

Barred Owls nest in tree cavities, often utilizing abandoned woodpecker holes or natural tree hollows. They may also use artificial if available. Barred Owl Nest Box Plans 

Unlike many other owl species, Barred Owls do not construct nests from scratch. They line the chosen cavity with a minimal amount of nesting material, such as leaves, bark, and feathers. They may reuse the same nest site year after year.

Females lay 2 to 4 eggs several days apart. The female incubates the eggs while the male provides food. Incubation lasts around 28 to 33 days. After hatching, both parents participate in raising and feeding the young. The chicks are initially helpless and covered in white down feathers. They grow rapidly under the care of their parents, who continue to provide food and protection.

Barred Owl chicks fledge, or leave the nest, at around 4 to 5 weeks of age. However, they may continue to roost nearby and depend on their parents for food and guidance for several weeks after fledging. During this time, they continue to develop their flight skills and hunting abilities. The parents gradually reduce their support, and the young owls become independent and establish their territories by the fall.

Barred Owls do not undertake long-distance migrations. However, they may move short distances within their range in response to changes in food availability or breeding opportunities. They typically maintain their territories year-round. During winter, Barred Owls may be more vocal and engage in territorial hooting to establish and defend their winter ranges.

Barred Owls have dark brown eyes, rounded heads with no ear tufts, and a facial disc with concentric circles of feathers that aid in sound collection. Their plumage features a distinctive pattern of horizontal barring on the chest, back, and wings, providing excellent camouflage. Barred Owls are known for their distinct hooting calls, which are frequently used for territorial communication and courtship displays.