NatureMapping Animal Facts

Barred Owl

Barred Owl (Strix varia)
Tecolote de Barras - en Espaņol
Species Code: STVA

Also know as the Swamp Owl, Striped Owl, Hoot Owl, Eight Hooter, Round Headed Owl, and Rain Owl

distribution map

Barred-owl photo by NP Description: The Barred Owl is a large gray-brown and white bird with a round head and no ear tufts. While most other owls have yellow eyes, the Barred Owl has brown eyes. It has a small sharp dull yellow beak. Named after the bars on its chest the Barred Owl is the most vocal of Eastern owls.

Call: It is sometimes called the laughing owl due to its many vocalizations. Its call resembles, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?"

Listen to calls of this species »

People often mistake the Barred Owl for a Spotted Owl. See if you can find the differences between the two species.

Range / Habitat: Barred owls live in forested areas, from swamps and riparian areas to uplands. The species prefer large blocks of forest.

Click the range map to learn more about the distribution of Barred Owls in Washington.

Barred-owl photo by NP

Diet: Small mammals, rabbits, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates.

Nesting: Barred owls build nests in cavities in deciduous trees or uses open nest made by hawk or crow. They also use nest boxes. The Barred Owl usually nests between February and May.

The owl lay a clutch of 1-5 white eggs. Both adults incubate the eggs for about 28 days when the eggs hatch. The young can fly at 42 days old.

Barred-owl photo by NP

Behavior: The Barred Owl is familiar for its distinctive "who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all" hooting. They are know to wade in water to catch crayfish.

Did you know?

  • The belly feathers of some Barred Owls are pink. This coloring may be the result of eating a lot of crayfish.
  • Barred Owl populations have expanded westward in the last century. The more aggressive Barred Owl may displace the endangered Spotted Owl.
  • Great Horned Owl is the most serious predatory threat to the Barred Owl.
  • The Barred Owl has brown eyes, not yellow as seen in most other owl species.

Animal silhouettes available to purchase »

Photos: Natures Pics

Barred Owl wing feathers

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