Barred Owl

Scientific Name:
Strix varia
Population Status:
Least Concern
Body Length:
19-20 inches
3-1/2 feet
1-1/2 to 2 pounds

Did you know?

  • The Barred Owl is a vocal bird and can utter a wide variety of vocalizations from hoots and screams to barks and laughter. Its most distinctive call sounds similar to “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.”
  • As the Barred Owl moves into the Pacific Northwest, it is breeding with its close relative, the Spotted Owl, to form hybrid birds. Barred Owls may be out-competing Spotted Owls, leading to declines in the native species.

Where they live

The historic range of Barred Owls encompassed the eastern half of the United States, but recently their range has been expanding into western North America. They also are found across Canada and Mexico.

Why they need our help

Populations are increasing in some areas.

What they eat

They are opportunistic foragers and consume a wide variety of prey. Rodents make up the bulk of their diet, but they also eat opossums, rabbits, weasels, bats, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, crayfish, and insects. To catch prey, Barred Owls swoop onto it from a perch or while hovering. They also will wade into shallow water.

Nest, eggs and young

They do not migrate and defend their nest territories throughout the year. They prefer cavities in trees, but on occasion use open nests built by crows, ravens, hawks, and squirrels. The female lays 2-4 eggs that are incubated for 28-32 days. The young fledge at 6 weeks, but may not become completely independent of their parents for several months.

Photo gallery

Photos needed! If you are a photographer and would be willing to donate photos of a Barred Owl for use on this site, please contact

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