Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Barred Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Strix varia | [authority] Barton, 1799 | [UK] Barred Owl | [FR] Chouette barree | [DE] Streifenkauz | [ES] Carabo Norteamericano, Buho Cafe (HN) | [NL] Gestreepte Bosuil


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Strix are the wood owls. They are medium to large owls, having a large, rounded head and no ear-tufts. The comparatively large eyes range from yellow through to dark brown. Colouring is generally designed fro camouflage in woodland, and a number of the member of this genus have colour phases. There are 20 species scattered practically throughout the globe with the exception of Australasia, the South Pacific and Madagascar, where the genus Ninox takes its place. There being no clear generic differences between Strix and Ciccaba genera, and DNA evidence suggesting very close relationships, many authorities now merge the latter into the former.

Physical charateristics

A large, brown, puffy-headed woodland owl with big, moist brown eyes. Barred across chest and streaked lengthwise
on belly; this combination separates it from the Spotted Owl, which it might eventually displace in the Northwest. White spots on back.

Listen to the sound of Barred Owl

[audio: Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 96 cm wingspan max.: 125 cm
size min.: 40 cm size max.: 63 cm
incubation min.: 28 days incubation max.: 30 days
fledging min.: 28 days fledging max.: 32 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


North America, Middle America : widespread


Woodlands, wooded river bottoms, wooded swamps.
Favors mostly dense and thick woods with only scattered clearings, especially in low-lying and swampy areas. Most common in deciduous or mixed woods in Southeast, but in North and Northwest may be found in mature coniferous trees.


Courtship involves both male and female bobbing and bowing heads, raising wings, and calling while perched close together. Male may feed female in courtship. Members of pair often call in duet.
Site is in large natural hollow in tree, broken-off snag, or on old nest of hawk, crow, or squirrel. Rarely nests on ground. Little or no nest material added. In East, often uses old Red-shouldered Hawk nest; hawk and owl may use the same nest in alterna
te years.
Clutch 2 -3, rarely 4. White. Incubation is mostly or entirely by female, about 28 -33 days; male brings food to incubating female.
Young: Female may remain with young much of time at first, while male hunts and brings back food for her and for young. Age of young at first flight about 6 weeks.

Feeding habits

Mostly small mammals.
Eats many mice and other small rodents, also squirrels (including flying squirrels), rabbits, opossums, shrews, other small mammals. Also eats various birds, frogs, salamanders, snakes, lizards, some insects. May take aquatic c
reatures such as crayfish, crabs, fish.
Behavior: Hunts by night or day, perhaps most at dawn and dusk. Seeks prey by watching from perch, also by flying low through forest; may hover before dropping to clutch prey in talons. Like many other owls, coughs up pellets of its prey

Video Barred Owl


copyright: David Quinn


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Barred Owl status Least Concern


Permanent resident throughout its range, although individuals may wander away from nesting habitat in winter.

Distribution map

Barred Owl distribution range map

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