Creation: Barred Owl

Strix varia

Barred Owl1Barred Owl2Barred Owl3Pics by Musicwolf, taken in Lakeland, Florida (h/t Project Noah)

The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a large owl native to North America. Best known as the Hoot Owl for its distinctive call, it goes by many other names, including Eight Hooter, Rain Owl, Wood Owl, and Striped Owl.

The adult is 16–25 in long with a 38–49 in wingspan and weight of 1.10 to 2.31 lb). It has a pale face with dark rings around the eyes, a yellow beak and brown eyes. It is the only typical owl of the eastern United States which has brown eyes; all others have yellow eyes. The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons. The head is round and lacks ear tufts.

The Barred Owl’s breeding habitats are dense woods across Canada; E., S.E., and N.W. United States; and Mexico. Recent studies show suburban neighborhoods can be ideal habitat for barred owls. Using transmitters, scientists found that populations increased faster in the suburban settings than in old growth forest, due probably to easily accessible rodent prey. However, for breeding and roosting needs, the Barred Owl needs at least some large trees. The main danger to owls in suburban settings is from cars.

The Barred Owl’s nest is often in a tree cavity, often old nests of woodpeckers,  hawks, crows or squirrels. If a nest site has proved suitable in the past the Barred Owl will often reuse it as the birds are non-migratory. In the United States, eggs are laid from early-January in southern Florida to mid-April in northern Maine, and consist of 2 to 4 eggs per clutch. Eggs are brooded by the female with hatching taking place approximately 4 weeks later. Young owls fledge four to five weeks after hatching.

Barred Owls have few predators. Their most significant predator is the Great Horned Owl; young, unwary Barred Owls may be taken by cats. The Barred Owl has been known to live up to 10 years in the wild and 23 years in captivity.


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6 years ago

They are remarkable animals. I remember a red tailed hawk swooping past me 10 feet away with a loud whoosh. Compare that to the sonic silence of the owl, an aural stealth hunter.

6 years ago

THanks for the memories! When we moved fr PA farmlands (b/c dad got his Ag degree fr PSU & went to work for bankers, making farm loans….) I still spent summers w/farming PA grandparents/relatives. I so remember hot summer (sleepless) nights, PRE-everyone-&-their-brother-has-a-at-least-window- air-conditioner. I listened all night to the “Hoot Owl” in the big Maple tree outside my open upstairs bedroom window in the farmhouse. Scared the crap out of me! But when I told my mom…she carefully explained they were wonderful creatures on the farm..hunting rodents (rats & mice, etc of the barn/corn crib) & I came to love… Read more »

6 years ago
Reply to  CalGirl

I hear the occasional barred owl here (Eastern Pa.) in the summer time. But I used to live in the backwoods of Florida on a river. Every year these owls would descend on an area of the river and perch in the cypress trees. We would shine flashlights up at them for a “birds eye view”, mere feet away. They remained undisturbed. Not sure how many were there but it was an entire flock of them. Quite a thrill indeed! Perhaps it was mating season.

6 years ago

Dr. E., I just took another look at the barred owl photos that you posted. I am sure they are perching in cypress trees, especially because of the trees being draped w/ Spanish moss. The photos could have been taken in Florida.

6 years ago

Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this interesting post. What a gorgeous owl! I love owls of every sort. They have a look of wisdom about them.