Barred Owl

Barred Owl                          Strix varia

Type of Animal:

Closed & open forests/woodland, swampland, suburban areas, streamsides, upland areas & prefer being near water

E. half of continental U.S from SE Nebraska, E Kansas, Oklahoma, & E Texas onwards as well as extreme NW California, W & NE Oregon, N Idaho, parts of Washington & far W Montana. Also found in Canada in Maritime provinces, S Quebec, S Ontario, much of S Manitoba, S part of C Saskatchewan, W & C Alberta, E British Columbia (including S Vancouver Island) & extreme border area of British Columbia, Yukon & NW Territories. Another population in central W Mexico.

Large stocky owl w/ round head, no ear tufts, medium rounded tail, mottled brown & white, underbelly has vertical brown bars on white background, wings/tail barred brown & white, dark eyes, yellow talons

Mice, rats, tree & ground squirrels, chipmunks, flying squirrels, voles, rabbits, hares, shrews, moles, bats, weasels, mink, otters, domestic/feral cats, chickens, ducks, grouse, quail, woodpeckers, songbirds, jays, crows, pheasants, other owl species up to size of long-eared owls, doves, pigeons, amphibians, fish, opossums, lizards, snakes, young alligators, crayfish, crabs, turtles, slugs, scorpions, earthworms, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, armadillos, spiders, snails, goat kids, centipedes

Status in Wild:

Not applicable

Solitary or monogamous pairs

Additional Info:


Male-1.38 lbs
Female-1.76 lbs

1 month 

Life Span:
15 years in wild, up to 30 years in captivity

Male-1.57 ft
Female-1.67 ft

Body Length:
Male-1.57 ft
Female-1.67 ft

Tail Length:
Male-8.5 in
Female-10 in

Main predators of adults are alligators, bears, coyotes, wolves, great horned owls, & northern goshawks. Other hawks & large owls prey on young, along w/ foxes, lynx, bobcat, cats, raccoons, & weasels.

They have a 3.5 ft long wingspan, w/ females having slightly longer wingspan.

Mostly nocturnal, though sometimes hunts during the day.

They sometimes use nests used by other animals, such as those of hawks, crows, squirrels, & ravens.

Sometimes hybridize w/ close relative, the Spotted Owl, in the west.

Owlets stay w/ parents for 6 months.

Fun Fact(s):
It can make several sounds, such as hoots, monkey like whoops, & the characteristic “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all” hoot bark. Owlets will screech & shriek.

Breeding pairs very defensive during nesting season, sometimes attacking people.

2 thoughts on “Barred Owl

  1. Kim

    We had a barred owl nest in a dead tree on our wooded land last year. I don’t see it nesting there this year. Question: do they return to their previous nesting ground like some birds do? Or could they be nesting within in the same area and I just don’t see them?

    1. Daniel Post author

      They usually do return to their previous nesting grounds though it’s possible it found another part of the area to nest in


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