Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Photograph courtesy of Carol Muth.

The Barred Owl (Strix varia); also known as the Hoot Owl, Eight Hooter, Rain Owl, Wood Owl and Striped Owl; is a member of the True Owl Family (Strigdae) and order Strigiformes. The order, family and genus name comes from the Latin for "screech owl" (strix strigis). The species name comes from the Latin for "varied" or "diverse."  It is noted for its call of six to eight "hoos" ending with a "hoo-hoo-aw." The common mnemonic for this call is "who cooks for you, who cooks for you all."

This owl will grow to around 40 inches (one meter) long and 20 inches (51 centimeters) wide with a wingspan up to 49 inches (125 centimeters). It is gray-brown with dark streaks on the face, neck and breast. The streaks on the neck and upper chest are horizontal but the streaks lower are vertical. The wings have light spots. This owl is distinguished from other owls in North America by its brown eyes. The Barred Owl also has a round head, yellowish beak and lacks ear-tufts.

The Barred Owl will nest in the cavities of trees or in buildings. The female will lay two to four white eggs in late April. They prey on small rodents, insects, carrion and the occasional bird. Look for Barred Owls in wet woods or forests, particularly near swamps. Campfires may attract them. They compete with the Northern Spotted Owl and have replaced the Spotted Owl some places in the Northwest of the United States.


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