Barred Owl Species Notes, Development Photos and Case Histories

Barred Owls are commonly found in deciduous woods along lakes and streams, and more recently in well- wooded suburban neighborhoods. A medium- sized owl, they are much less powerful than the Great Horned Owl, and prey types are smaller, including rodents, some birds, as well as reptiles, and amphibians, insects, crawfish, crabs, and fish. They hunt by night or day, preferring dawn and dusk. Barred Owls are most notable for their loud call, which is said to sound like “who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all”. They show a preference for nesting in large old deciduous trees, usually in a crotch or cavity.  Like most owls, they are not efficient nest builders, and the young quite often fall because the cavity is too small or too rotten to provide security. It quite often happens that the nest is too small or insecure to permit returning a downed juvenile to the nest.  In some cases, it is better to relocate all of the nestlings to the nest basket, to avoid further mishaps.   Like nearly all owls, Barred Owls are very ready to accept other juveniles in addition to their own. The incubation period typically is 28 to 33 days.  Young nestlings are brooded by the female for the first two weeks.  Self-feeding begins between 2 to 3 weeks after hatching. Barred Owls begin ‘branching’ at 4 to 5 weeks of age, but actual flight does not occur until about 10 weeks. The young continue to be fed by their parents until they are 4 to 5 months old, only dispersing in early fall. This prolonged period of parental assistance gives wild-raised juveniles a significant edge over juveniles raised in a flight cage. The ease of reuniting and fostering makes these alternatives especially desirable for this species.

Barred Owls respond extremely well to the recorded calls, and Case 1 is a good example of the
value of having a recording to bring the adults to a substitute nest in a different location after a
separation of almost a week.


Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Development Photos



Young Nestlings


Older Nestlings






Case Histories

Case #1

Case #2, #3 and #4

Case #5

Case #6

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