California Raptor Center

Barred Owl

Scientific Name: Strix varia
(Strix is Latin for ‘screech-owl’, varia is Latin meaning ‘variegated’).

Size: Length: 16-24in Wingspan: 38-50in

Weight: Female: 610-1051g (~1.3-2.3lb) Male: 468-774g (~1-1.7lb)

Lifespan: The life span in the wild is approximately 10 years and a captive owl may live more than 20 years.

ID: The Barred Owl is named for its distinctive appearance consisting of horizontally barred feathers across most of its grayish-brown body and the vertical barring of its light colored underside. This large owl has dark eyes, no horns and a yellow beak and is well known as one of the most vocal owl species. No plumage difference between juveniles and adults and males and females.

Hunting: This species hunts from a perch, from dusk into the night.

Prey: Primarily voles, shrews and mice. It has also been known to wade into water to catch crayfish. The plumage of birds eating a lot of crayfish may actually turn pink.

Breeding: Breeding: Barred Owls mate for life and have one long brooding season that begins in March and ends in August. Clutch size ranges from 1-5 eggs, which are laid in a cavity or large abandoned nest. The eggs have an incubation time of 28-33 days. Spends a considerable amount of time caring for their young and may actually feed them throughout the summer before the young owls disperse areas nearby. Once a Barred Owl has acquired a suitable territory, they will use the same roost and nest year after year if they go undisturbed.

Range: Found in moist, wooded areas east of the Rocky Mountains. Recently this bird has become infamous for expanding its range to include areas traditionally held by the Northern Spotted Owl. This newly found range includes the area surrounding the Western section of the U.S/Canadian border and as far south as Northern California.The two species have very similar ecological roles and preferences and because the Northern Spotted Owl is listed as endangered in Canada and threatened in the United States the intrusion of the Barred Owl is causing some concern. In some areas the Barred Owl has been out competing the Northern Spotted Owl, while in other areas the two species have actually begun to interbreed.

Status: This species appears to have an increasing population and is not listed as endangered, threatened or as a species of special concern.