Barred Owl Strix varia

Did You Know? 

>>A Barred Owl’s right ear is higher than its left ear. Hearing from two different angles helps it pinpoint the location of prey.

>>Barred Owls get their name from the vertical bars on their abdomen and horizontal bars on their chest.

>>Average life span is approximately 8 years in the wild.

>>The Barred Owl is one of our largest owls, standing 16 to 23 inches tall with a 38 to 45 inch wingspan.

>>The standard call is often translated as sounding much like “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” The Barred Owl makes a host of other sounds too, including squirrel-like barking and monkey-like hoots and yells.

>>Amateur naturalist Benjamin Smith Barton published the first description of a Barred Owl in 1799. In Latin, “varia” is a form of the word “varius,” meaning diverse. It has also been known as the Northern Barred Owl, Swamp Owl, Striped Owl, Hoot Owl, Eight Hooter, Round-headed Owl, Le Chat-huant du Nord (French for “the hooting cat of the north”), and rain owl.

>>Parents may care for their young for up to 6 months, which is longer than most other owl species.

>>Barred Owls are typically found near bodies of water. Their main prey is small mammals, but they often consume fish, snakes, crawfish, and frogs.

General Information on Barred Owls


An all-gray owl (although some individuals have a brown wash) streaked with white horizontal barring on the chest and vertical barring on the belly. It has a yellow beak and no tufts on the head. Its brown eyes are one feature to distinguish it from the Great Gray Owl, found in the Northern coniferous forest.


Found in the United States and southern Canada east of the Rocky Mountains, although it has been recently expanding its range westward. This is causing concern, as it may compete with the endangered Spotted Owl.


A woodland owl, associated with flood plains, river bottoms, and lake margins.



A cavity-nesting owl that will also nest in old crow or hawk nests or human-made structures. Barred Owls begin nesting in March. The female lays two or three white eggs, which hatch in 28 to 33 days. The newly hatched young are covered with fine white down. Young Barred Owls leave the nest four to five weeks after hatching.


Barred Owls feed on a variety of prey, including chipmunks, squirrels, young rabbits, birds, and crustaceans.


A very common species with no special status.