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Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Barred Owl Range Map (North America)
Barred Owl Range Map (North America)
Latin Name Strix varia
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location North America
Colour Grey
Length 43 - 50 cm (17 - 20 inches)
Wingspan 99 - 110 cm (39 - 43 inches)
Weight 470 - 1050 g (16.6 - 37 oz)
Life Expectancy Up to 10 Yrs (Wild)
Up to 23 Yrs (in Captivity)

Main Characteristics

Barred Owls are large owls that are between 43 and 50 cms (17 - 20 inches) in length, they have a wingspan between 99 and 110 cms (39 - 43 inches) and they weigh between 470 and 1,050 g (16.6 - 37 oz).

Their upperside is mottled grey in colour and their underside is pale grey. They have dark coloured markings in the form of bars that run horizontally across their chest and vertically down their front.

Their head is rounded in shape and they lack any ear tufts. Their beak is yellow and they have brown coloured eyes. Their legs and feet are covered with feathers up to their talons.

Barred Owls are highly vocal and their usual call consists of a series of eight hoots. When they are agitated they will make a rasping hiss and other calls include a short barking sound.


Barred Owls are found in the dense forests, wooded swamps, and woodlands of North America. At night they hunt in their territory which is between 85 and 365 hectares (213 - 903 acres). During the day they spend their time hiding among the dense foliage high up in a tree.


Barred Owls feed upon a variety of prey including mice, voles, shrews, moles, rats, squirrels, opossums, mink, weasels, birds, bats, young rabbits, snakes, lizards, frogs, fish and insects.

They are opportunistic hunters and they wait high up on a perch then swoop down on their prey. They usually eat their catch straight away, but bigger catches are taken to a perch before they are consumed.


Barred Owls begin courting in February and they breed between March and August. They nest in tree cavities and will often reuse an old nesting site of a crow, squirrel or hawk. They pair up for life and they will often return to a particular nesting site for several years.

2 - 4 round, white eggs are laid and after an incubation period of 28 - 33 days the chicks hatch. The young owls leave the nest when they are around 4 weeks old, but they are not able to fly at this stage and they perch on branches near their nest.

The chicks fledge when they reach 35 - 40 days old but their parents care for them for at least 4 months.


The only natural predators of Barred Owls are great horned owls.


Subspecies of Barred Owls include:

Strix varia varia
Strix varia georgica
Strix varia helveola
Strix varia sartorii

Interesting Facts

Barred Owls are also known as:
Hoot Owl
Northern Barred Owl
Swamp Owl
Striped Owl
Eight Hooter
Round-headed Owl
Wood Owl
Rain Owl

Barred Owl is sometimes mistakenly spelt as Bard Owl.

Similar Birds

Great Grey Owl
Ural Owl
Spotted Owl
Tawny Owl

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