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Barred Owl
(Strix varia)

        
Public domain photo from Amy Leist/NPS
 
Barred Owl Information

Length:  17 - 24"

Habitat:  Wooded areas - from swampy woods to drier, upland forests. Esp. woods near streams, lakes, or river valleys. Prefers open woodlands or wooded areas near open country for hunting.

Diet
:  Small mammals, including mice (staple), shrews, voles, squirrels, chipmunks, hares, rabbits; birds, reptiles, amphibians, crayfish, insects
 
Identification tips for the Barred Owl
 
        Another photo of Barred Owl
 
RANGE MAPS
(Click map to enlarge)
 
Barred Owl Breeding Map Barred Owl Winter Map      USGS
     
Breeding Map            Winter Map (CBC)  
 
 
NESTING AND BREEDING
 
Territory

It is believed that the average size of the Barred Owl's territory is about one square mile. The territory is defended throughout the year, not only during the breeding season. When food is scarce on its territory, the male may leave the area for the winter and return the following spring.

These birds are monogamous and probably mate for life. They do not migrate and typically use the same nest site year after year.

 
Nest
The Barred Owl most commonly nests in an unlined, natural cavity in a tree or in a hollow in the top of a tree stub. The nest is located from 20 to 80 feet above the ground. These owls may also use the unoccupied nest of a hawk, crow, or squirrel.
 
Incubation and Fledging
The Barred Owl typically lays 2 or 3 dull white eggs. Most reports indicate that the female incubates the eggs, with some possible participation by the male. The incubation period is from 28 to 33 days.

About four or five weeks after hatching, the young owls climb out of the nest and perch on nearby branches. It can be up to six more weeks before they are able to fly.
 
 
BEHAVIOR AND HABITS
The Barred Owl is mostly nocturnal but it is not unusual to see or hear it during the daytime hours, especially in the late afternoon or on cloudy days.

This owl hunts mainly from a perch. Like most owls, it swallows its prey whole and then returns to a more sheltered location. The indigestible materials - bones, fur, and other parts - form into pellets that the owl regurgitates each day. An owl's feeding perches can often be located by the pellets found on the ground below.

When roosting during the day, the Barred Owl may be mobbed by crows, jays, chickadees, or other birds. Mobbing is thought to be either a means of driving the predator away, a way of diverting it from nesting areas, or a system for alerting other birds to the owl's presence.
 
Barred Owl on Branch
Barred Owl
Photo credit: Mark Musselman/USFWS
 
     
   

 

 


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