Hoot Owl) Strix varia
A medium-sized owl, the barred
owl is 16-25 inches long, has a wingspan of 38-50
inches, and weighs 16-38 ounces; females are
larger than males. The upperparts are
brown to greyish-brown, scalloped with whitish
bars on the crown, back and mantle. Wing-coverts
are spotted whitish. Flight feathers are barred
whitish-buff and brown. The tail is brown or
greyish-brown with 4-5 whitish bars. The facial
disc is pale greyish-brown with darker concentric
lines. The toes are almost totally feathered.
Distribution and Habitat
The barred owl is found
throughout the eastern half of North America,
across southern Canada, and in southwestern
Canada south to northern California. The
preferred habitat is mature mixed forest, but the
barred owl can also be found in wooded swamps and
woodlands near waterways.
Opportunistic predators, barn
owls prey on a variety of small mammals, with
rodents being the most common. They will also
take reptiles, amphibians, a variety of
invertebrates, roosting birds, and even fish.
Hunting is usually done at night, but barred owls
are occasionally seen hunting at dusk during the
nesting season or on dark, cloudy days. Small
prey is usually devoured whole on the spot, while
larger prey may be carried to a feeding perch and
torn apart before being eaten (head first).
Barred owls are believed to
pair for life, and may use the same nesting sites
year after year. Breeding takes place from March
to August. They do not build their own nests,
preferring to take advantage of an existing tree
cavity, abandoned squirrel nest, or man-made nest
box or platform instead. They rarely "make
improvements" to cavities or existing nests,
save for the addition of lichen, fresh green
conifer sprigs, or feathers for comfort. Up to 4
white eggs are laid, and are incubated by the
female alone for 28-33 days; the male will return
at irregular intervals to bring her food. The
owlings can leave the nest at about 4 weeks, but
cannot fly until they are about 4 months old.
They will be cared for by both parents until able
Barred owls are usually solitary outside the
Territorial all year round, they chase away
intruders while hooting loudly. They are even
more aggressive during the nesting season
(particularly the females), sometimes striking
intruders with their feet.
Barred owls tend to spend their entire lives
within 6-10 miles of where they were born, moving
to new territories only when food supplies are
low or their habitat is destroyed.
Hides in dense foliage during the day, usually
high up. May also roost on a branch close to a
broad tree-trunk, or in a natural tree hole. May
be very aggressive when defending a nest.
The barred owl's alternate name (hoot owl)
comes from its most common vocalization: "hoo,
hoo, too-HOO; hoo, hoo, too-HOO, ooo,"
which is often phrased as "Who, cooks,
for-you? Who, cooks, for-you, all?"
genus & species Strix varia
All About Birds http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/barred_owl/id
The Owl Pages http://www.owlpages.com/owls.php?genus=Strix&species=varia
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