NatureMapping Animal Facts for Kids

Barred Owl

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

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 What they look like: 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. It is sometimes called the laughing owl due to its many vocalizations (sounds it makes). Its call sounds like, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?"

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

Where they live: Barred owls live in forested areas, from swamps to uplands. They may be found in city parks or low-density residential areas with forest patches.

Click the map for information about the habitat and range of the Barred Owl in Washington.

Barred-owl photo by NP

What they eat: Small mammals, rabbits, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates.

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

The owl lays 1 to 5 white eggs. Both adults incubate the eggs for about 28 days when the eggs hatch. The young can fly at 42 days old.

Behavior: The Barred Owl is familiar for its distinctive "who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all" hooting. They can be seen wading 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 Barred Owl has brown eyes, not yellow as seen in most other owl species.

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Photo Credit: Natures Pics

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