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Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Species Code: STVA

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Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only.
© NatureMapping Program

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Predicted breeding range

= Core Habitat
= Marginal Habitat


Barred Owl photo

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Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only. The habitats were identified using 1991 satellite imagery,
Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA), other datasets and experts throughout the state, as part of the Washington Gap Analysis Project. Habitats used during non-breeding months and migratory rest-stops were not mapped.

NatureMapping observations map   Map with Breeding Bird Atlas records
Observations | Historic Gap points


This species is uncommon in low- and moderate-elevation forests in western Washington, and in moderate-elevation forests in eastern Washington. They are generally found in moderate-age to mature forests, utilizing hardwood, coniferous, and mixed woodlands. They may be found in city parks or low-density residential areas with appropriate forest patches. Its range has expanded rapidly from northeastern Washington in recent years. In western Washington, this species may still be expanding its range. Its range limits there are uncertain, but it is likely (or soon will be) distributed throughout the state.

Good habitat in core zones included all habitats except west-side mid-seral and late-seral conifer forests below the Silver Fir zone (west side) and below the Sub-alpine Fir zone (east side).

Core areas of use were forest zones below Mountain Hemlock and Sub-alpine Fir, which were peripheral. All forests were good habitat and low-density development and fresh water/wetland habitats were adequate.

Washington breeders represent the nominate mid-western species S. v. varia. The influx of the Barred Owl from British Columbia has been rapid. The first state record was from Blueside in Pend Oreille County on October 2, 1965; the first western Washington record was a dead bird found near Skykomish in King County in December 1973. Birds were first found during the breeding season, which indicates possible breeding in the state, in 1973. Some of these early breeding-season records include one at Middleport in Stevens County in July 1973; one throughout the summer at Park Rapids, also in Stevens County, in 1974; and a pair near Sedro Woolley in Skagit County throughout the breeding season in 1974. Between 1973 and 1980, 60 new sightings of Barred Owls were reported. Thirty of these were in western Washington, with western WashingtonÕs first breeding record in 1975 at Bacus Hill in Skagit County. Then, these birds nested again in 1979 and since then, Barred Owls have continued to expand their range throughout Washington, and can now be found in most lowland and montane forests. Although there is only one BBA record from the Blue Mountains, this species is known to occur there, albeit in small numbers. It has been recorded along Mill Creek east of Walla Walla in 1986, and at 4000 feet in Columbia County. Additionally, Barred Owls are known from the Oregon Wallowa Mountains and Blue Mountains, where the first Oregon record was recorded in 1974 in the Wenaha River drainage.

Translated from the Washington Gap Analysis Bird Volume by Uchenna Bright
Text edited by Gussie Litwer
Map by Dave Lester