Barred Owl

Strix varia

Image by D. Gordon E. Robertson on Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Physical: Relatively large and stocky with a round head. Brown with white mottling on its back and wings, and white with brown streaks on its breast and belly. This “barred” plumage lends this owl its namesake, and also provides camouflage. A yellow bill, large, dark eyes and a disc-shaped face give this bird-of-prey an attractive, inquisitive and wise expression. Broad, rounded wings help it to fly noiselessly through dense woods. Their distinctive call is recognized as “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”

Habitat: Forest birds – they depend on intact mature tracts of woodlands, preferably near water. Prime habitat includes Atlantic White Cedar swamps and dense oak and maple wetlands. 

Feeding: Most of their hunting is conducted primarily during the evening or night, but sometimes during the day. Keen eyesight and hearing allow them the ability to watch and listen for prey while perched in the forest canopy or over nearby water. Their menu includes rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and other small rodents, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. 

Breeding: Mature woodlands provide large old trees with suitable nesting cavities. Sometimes they may reuse stick nests made by other raptors, ravens or squirrels. In addition, they will utilize human-made nest boxes of appropriate size. One brood per year consisting of 1-5 pure white eggs is typical. Eggs are incubated for slightly over one month; hatchlings are altricial – completely dependent on their parents for survival. It takes nestlings about a month before they are ready to fledge the nest. They continue to depend on their parents to learn how to fly, hunt and eventually survive on their own.  

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