Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Barred Owl (Strix varia)


Barred Owls Are found in a Large portion of North America. They are primarily found in the mid to Eastern United states, up to central Quebec and Northern Ontario. They then follow the boreal forest over to British Columbia where their range extends down to the Northern tip of California.

Barred owls do not move far from their home habitats, they may move temporarily if the winter is quite extreme, however. In their range Barred Owls can be found near water in mixed forests. Undisturbed tracks of mature forest are best because they provide the owls with ample nesting areas and they also support large and varied amounts of prey. Their habitats can include swampland, to streams, to upland areas, with many different preferred tree types. It is in these trees that they make their nests, the Barred Owl does very little to alter the natural cavities in the trees and will sometimes take over nests built and abandoned by other birds. The nests are usually off the ground and the barred Owl will even roost in nest-boxes that are put up by humans.

Physical Description

                The Barred Owl is a stocky owl with very dark brown eyes and a yellow beak. There are no ear tufts on the Barred Owl’s rounded head. The owl has brown and white feathers all over the body with white spots around the facial disk and white and brown bars on the chest and belly of the owl, giving it its name of the Barred Owl. A way to tell if Barred Owl is nearby is by its call. At night, they will give off a deep call that sounds like it is saying “who cooks for you?”.


                The Barred Owl hunts for small mammals. They will eat anything from squirrels and chipmunks to rabbits and birds, they will not hunt things that start to get as big as they are. When they hunt, they will wait in an elevated position to hear their prey, if they are hunting mammals they will swoop down and seize their prey, but if they are hunting fish or invertebrates they will drop straight into the water to grab their prey. They will swallow small prey in one gulp, and bigger prey will be separated into chunks and then swallowed.


                The Barred Owl used to only exist in the old growth forests of Eastern North America, but with the introduction of fire suppression in the North the Owls have now made their wat to the West coast. The Barred Owl is not a species of concern, but since the Barred Owl relies on intact forests to thrive, they are often used as an indicator species when logging of an area is being considered or monitored. The Bard Owl, since moving into the West Coast, has started to compete and hybridize with the Spotted Owl, which is a fragile population to begin with.


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2016. Barred Owl.