STATUS IN THE WILD: Least Concern
RANGE: North America
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
The barred owl is a large, round owl with a grey-brown head and pale facial feathers. A dark line of feathers surrounds the face that accentuates a pale yellow bill and big brown eyes. The chest is mostly a whitish pale color with vertical streaks of darker plumage. This species has feathers on its legs and feet, except in some southern populations where legs are bare. The tail is brown or grey-brown with four or five pale horizontal stripes. Owlets have soft, white down feathers that lack the distinctive barred owl coloration; these remain until adult plumage is attained after five or six months. There are four subspecies of barred owl that all vary slightly.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
Barred owls are highly territorial and defend their areas by singing from various perches or attacking any intruders. This species, like most owls, is nocturnal and roosts during the day. Barred owls will wait in tree tops for unsuspecting prey. Hunting usually occurs at dawn or dusk.
They are solitary except for breeding season when they form breeding pairs. Nests are made in tree cavities with very little extra material. Two or three eggs are laid usually between March and April. The female will incubate the eggs for about a month, during which the male will bring her food. After hatching, the offspring are cared for by both parents, even after leaving the nest.
Barred owls are widely distributed across most of Canada, United States, and Mexico.
This species is mostly found in dense woodlands surrounded by swamps or rivers.
Barred owls are opportunistic but eat mostly small mammals, such as voles, moles, rats, and chipmunks. They have been seen eating amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates as well.