Barred Owl

Strix varia

Barred Owl

The Barred owl is the only owl of the eastern United States which has brown eyes; all others have yellow eyes. The underparts are light with markings. The chest has barred lines horizontally while the belly has streaked vertical lines. (hence its name “barred owl.”) Its call is a series of eight hoots ending in oo-aw. They hunt by waiting on a high perch at night and swoop down on prey. They build their nests in a tree cavity, often ones created by Pileated woodpeckers. The Barred owl habitats consist of woodlands, forests, and heavily wooded swamps. They are found in the eastern United States and as far west as Texas. Barred owls do not migrate. They will remain in the area in which they have hatched their entire lives.


Barred owls are nocturnal birds. They are active during the night hours and at dawn and dusk. They will call to their mates and hunt during the daytime, especially on overcast days. Barred owls are predators. They hunt for prey over farmlands, open country, roadsides, and rivers mainly at night. Barred owls will sit quietly on a high perch in a tree, rotating their heads as much as 270 degrees in search of movement on the forest floor. They will silently swoop down and use its powerful feet and sharp talons to clasp and kill its target. Barred owls will eat small prey whole. The fur covering of the prey helps to protect the owl’s throat as it swallows its meal. Some of the prey’s parts are hard to digest such as nails, bones, teeth, fur, and feathers. These indigestible parts are packed together into a pellet in the owl’s gizzard. Typically, an owl will regurgitate this pellet about 6 to 8 hours after a meal. These pellets are typically found on the forest floor beneath an area where an owl roost.


The Barred owl eats a variety of species which include rats, squirrels, bats, moles, opossums, mink and weasels.


Size: 16-25 inches
Weight: 1 – 2.5 lbs
Lifespan:10 years in the wild.