Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Details About The Barred Owl

  • General Information

    The Barred Owl is a large owl with a round head, no ear tufts and a long tail. Primarily gray and brown with white bars and edges, and the face is gray-brown. Barred Owl under parts are buff with vertical streaks, and the collar is barred horizontally, contrasting with a streaked breast. These owls have dark brown (virtually black) eyes and a yellow or white beak almost covered by feathers.

    Latin Name: Strix varia
    Class: Aves
    Order: Strigiformes
    Family: Strigidae
    Length: 16-25 inches
    Weight: 1-1.5 pounds
    Wingspan: 38-50 inches
    Common Name: Hoot Owl, rain Owl, Round-Headed Owl, Swamp Owl, Wood Owl
    Etymology: strix (Latin) - "a strident owl", varia (Latin) - "variegated"

  • Flight, Voice & Habitat

    A Barred Owl's flight is buoyant and light, noiseless with slow, heavy wing beats. This owl rarely soars, but frequently flies high.

    A Barred Owl's call is loud, very vocal hooting, often in response to each other. Hoo-hoo-to-hoo-oo, hoo-hoo to wha-aa suggests " Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?" They are extremely vocal in February and March and again during late summer and fall. The Barred Owl is probably the most vocal of all owls.

    Barred Owls prefer mature forests and heavily wooded swamps. They roost in densely forested areas and hunt over farmland, open country, roadsides and rivers. They are often associated with red-shouldered hawks.

  • Nesting

    "Barred Owls are fairly sedentary, a behavior that may contribute to establishing long-term pair bonds and nest territoriality. They frequently use abandoned red-shouldered hawk or crow nests; also large, deep hollows in trees or nest boxes. Barred Owls will often nest close to Red-shouldered Hawks without conflict and may use the same nest several years in a row. They lay 2-3 (rarely 4-5) white eggs, with a slightly rough texture. Incubation is all done by the female and lasts approximately 28-33 days. The young owlets begin branching by 4- 5 weeks, but do not fledge until they are closer to 6 weeks old. "

  • Distribution

    The Barred Owl is found all over the eastern United States, north into Canada and south into Florida and Texas. They are also found in the Pacific Northwest, overlapping with Spotted Owl habitat.

  • Food

    Barred Owl prey size spans from insects to woodchucks, geese, and herons. They are opportunistic hunters and will often eat easy to catch prey such as lizards, frogs and small rodents.

  • Current Resident Birds

    The unlikely named Bob O. is a female Barred Owl from Cumberland County, NC. Named after a Raptor Center volunteer's father, Bob O. was believed to be male because of her small size. This notion was forgotten when she laid an egg in 2011! She is part of Carolina Raptor Center's education team and keeps the name Bob O. to this day.

    Grimm, the Barred Owl, is in training to join our program team. Grimm is named for the Brother's Grimm, German folklore masters, who popularized many children's stories like "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty." This owl arrived at Carolina Raptor Center in 2015 from Chester, SC.

    Sweet Rosalind, the Barred Owl, is named for The Bard's character in the farce "As You Like It." Another Tennessee native, she has lived on the Raptor Trail since 2009. She joins in the chorus of "Who Cooks for You" heard every evening in the Owl Forest.

    Shakespeare, the Barred Owl, is named by ornithologist and Barred Owl researcher Dr. Rob Bierregaard for The Bard William Shakespeare, of course! Originally from the Smokey Mountains, Shakespeare has held forth as one of the stars on the Raptor Trail stage in the Owl Forest since 2009.

    Water lover, Sophie, moved to the Raptor Trail from Lake Wylie in 2001. She hoots with the other Barred Owls in the Owl Forest at Carolina Raptor Center. Don't get too close or she'll clack her beak at you like she's really making a statement! Opinionated, that one.

    Ulula, the Barred Owl, is an education bird extraordinaire. Her name means "owl" in Latin. She flies with her own wings or "Alis volat propriis" - the state motto of Oregon. This fully flighted Latin goddess shares her name with a minor planet or object orbiting the sun. She has been a resident of Carolina Raptor Center since 2008.

    Our leucistic Barred Owl Ramsey came to CRC in 2016. Her white talons and one white feather on each wing make her unique. She is named after the famous chef Gordon Ramsey, answering the question to "who cooks for you, who cooks for you all" that is associated with the hoot of a Barred Owl.

    Ned, the Barred Owl, has an important job: he is a surrogate parent to any Barred Owl nestlings we receive in Rehab!

  • Fun Facts & Other Interesting Information

    Young Barred Owls climb trees by grasping the bark with their bill and talons, flapping their wings, and walking their way up the trunk. That's using your beak!

    Barred Owls have been dive-bombing joggers Oregon's 90-acre Bush Pasture Park. Four people have reported incidents of the stocky raptors, attacking joggers at this locale. Owls inflicting injury like this is rare, but not unheard of during the time of year when the birds are preparing to raise their young.