Barred owls are overall white with mottled brown patterns all over their plumage, eyes are dark brown, and they appear almost black from a distance. Their inner body has a white base with medium thickness vertical brown bars. However, on the chest, the bar pattern contrasts with the lower body, as it has horizontal brown bars. Their wings and tails also have the same colour theme; barred brown and white colour.
Barred owls are not too big; they are medium-sized, and unlike other owl species, they do not have ear tufts. The brown colour is not entirely brown as it has hues of grey, with slight mottling on their backs. Barred owls are larger than spotted owls.
Barred owls also have multiple names like Striped owl, and Northern Barred owl, Hoot owl, Round-headed owl, and much more.
Barred owl habitat:
The barred owl’s habitat is connected with the old forests and large trees all over the world. However, in some areas like Washington, barred owls cannot find such ancient trees, so they have adapted to the second-growth trees, mixed woods, wooded swamps and forests. Such trees are generally coniferous, with extensive leaves, and have holes or openings due to logging.
You will not spot barred owls at heights where you usually observe the spotted owls. Barred owls tends to inhabit much higher elevations, mainly in swampy areas. In winters, they may become habitual to low-density residential areas, city parks, and wooded swamps.
Barred owl behavior
Barred owls hunt at night, but unlike other owls, they show more activity during the day. Barred owls are natural predators, and they follow a “Wait and Watch” strategy. But, like a hawk, they also watch their prey from a distance and then go after them unexpectedly. The process happens so fast that the target does not have the time to process what has happened.
Barred Owls are most active at night but also call and hunt during the day. They are sit-and-wait predators, sitting quietly on a perch before swooping silently down on unsuspecting prey. Occasionally they also hunt on the wing. Barred Owls have a wide variety of vocalizations and often call back and forth with their mates.
Barred owl diet:
Barred owls hunt for a specific food, however even being particular, they eat multiple varieties of prey. The main prey includes chipmunks, young rabbits, small animals like frogs, small mammals, small birds, large invertebrates and even birds of similar species. Male brings food for his chicks in the nest.
Barred owl migration:
Unlike some of the other owl species, barred owls do not migrate. However, they may move from one place to the other depending upon the circumstances like:
- Habitat loss and destruction
- Scarcity of food
In addition, if snow is too deep in some areas, they may have to move out as the juveniles may fall deep in the snow and then they can hardly find it.
Breeding and nesting of barred owls:
Barred owls are romantic as they are monogamous and form pairs for a lifetime. The bonds among couples are pretty strong, and they defend their bond and territories all around the year. However, males may leave their environments in eastern states and look for new ones at the end of the breeding season.
They build their nest in tree holes, fissures, in the leftover nests of hawks, squirrels and crows, and artificial nests planted by localities before the breeding season. Unlike other birds, barred owls do not look for complex materials to build their nests.
Barred owls are single brooded. However, they have a prolonged breeding season period. Female lays two to three eggs in a clutch, and then the incubation period ranges between twenty-eight to thirty-three days. The Female takes responsibility for the nest and the chicks while the male brings food.
Young birds leave and flee away from the nest after four to five weeks. They begin by fledging away to the nearby tree branches. In the tenth week, young barred owls are now ready to take on the short flight, and they become capable of flying at more height and with consistency at twelve weeks.
Conservation status of barred owls:
The northern barred owl is heavily available and is common in its native places and ranges. However, in the twentieth century, the world has seen a dramatic increase in its population towards the west. In Washington, they were first spotted on the eastern side in 1965 and then on the western side in 1973. Then people began to breed this unique species in 1975.
The mixing of this unique species with the spotted owl species has brought several challenges to barred owls. Barred owls have adjusted with the spotted owls, and they also hybridize with them. Its sudden expansion is causing concern to control the population of these owls. However, currently, there is no other method to control the barred owl’s population.
Barred owl facts:
- Barred owls are large greyish-brown, white birds. Their flight feathers are whitish buff, having a rounded head, with no tufts.
- Their tail length is three-hundred and eight millimetres.
- The barred owl has an upper breast with horizontal bars, while the lower side has vertical brown bars.
- Barred owls create breeding pairs year-round. They mainly occur in North America and the Eastern half continent from Florida to Southern Canada.
- Unlike other owls, which usually have yellow eyes, barred owls have brown eyes.
- Barred owl (strix varia) is of the minor concern owl species.
- Barred owls are commonly confused with spotted owls and great horned owls. However, great horned owls are more giant.
- Breeding season for barred owl takes place from December to March. Breeding season for these owls can begin when they are two years old.
- Barred owl also has several other names like a striped owl, swamp owl, hoot owl, eight hooters etc.
- In spring, the young birds are prone to heat strokes which may occur in some regions.
- Barred owl cares for his chicks for as long as six months, which is much greater than other owl species.
- They eat the small-sized prey as a whole while the larger prey is bitten into pieces beginning from the head.
- Barred owls remain under camouflage during the day, generally under dense foliage.
- Recently, the population of barred owls has increased towards the Pacific Northwest.
- Barred owls usually build their nest in old crow and hawk nests and tree cavities.
- A cinereous owl was once called the barred owl. Later on, the owl was put under a separate category.
Questions and Answers
How big is a barred owl?
The barred owl is more significant than the Eastern screech owl and smaller than the Great horned owl. Barred owl weighs around six hundred and twenty grams.
Where does the barred owl live?
Barred owl lives in old mature forests that contains evergreen and deciduous trees present near water bodies—barred owls nest in places like tree cavities, crow and hawk nests. In the Northwest, barred owls live in Coniferous trees, competing with the mistaken spotted owls.
Are barred owls nocturnal?
It is a common myth that barred owls are nocturnal, though they are primarily heard at night, but they also show activity during the day. That is why they are termed as crepuscular.
Why do barred owls hoot?
Hoots aid owls in communicating like all other birds. They are also associated with several meanings and barred owl hoots for claiming a territory or when he sees an intruder interfering in his territory.