Barred Owl

Basic Information:

Scientific Name: Strix varia

Habitat: Barred owls are native to North America, especially the eastern region and US-Canada border.

Diet: Barred owls are a predatory species that hunt mice, voles, frogs, snakes, bats, and small animals.

Size: 1.2 to 2 feet high / 3 to 3.8 foot wingspan

Weight: 1.4 to 1.8 pounds

Lifespan: 15 to 20 years

Distribution Map:

I.U.C.N. Conservation Status:

What does this mean?

Least Concern – a species determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) to be pervasive, abundant, and thriving.

Our Barred Owl:

Grace (Female) – Estimated Date of Birth Between July 2000 & July 2008

About Barred Owls:

Barred Owls are one of the most common species of owls found on the eastern half of the United States! Identifiable by their stripped (or barred) feather pattern and unique hoot (ok-ok-ok-ok ok-ok-buhooh), these owls spend most of their time sitting in trees and using their extremely powerful sight and hearing to pick out their prey. Once a target it decided upon, these owls will swoop down in near silence and snatch them from the ground. Barred Owls are known to hunt birds, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and invertebrates. They are such effective predators that a Barred Owl tends to catch between 1 and 5 prey every single day! Unfortunately, this effectiveness has led these owls to become a threat to other species around the country. Over the years, they have begun to spread their territory even more west which has them encroaching on the hunting grounds of more threatened owl species such as the Spotted Owl. In fact, Barred Owl have become such a danger to other species that they have started to be considered invasive in some parts of the Untied States! 

Did You Know?!

  • Barred owls are nocturnal hunters, coming out in the evening and late at night to search for prey. Owls have great vision, but rely much more heavily on their sense of hearing to find prey.
  • Barred owls do not migrate and actually do not move around very much. In one study, most of the owls in a group did not move more than 6 miles from the locations where they were originally spotted and banded.
  • Owls are known as silent fliers. The molecular structure of their feathers differs from those that grow on a hawk, allowing them to glide through the night without alarming prey animals.
  • Barred Owls are smaller than great-horned owls and the latter is actually a known predator of barred owls.
  • The barred owl’s call is a very stereotypical “hoot” and birders often describe it as sounding similar to the question, “Who cooks for you?”
  • Barred owls are given their name from the “barred” pattern on their feathers. 

The Utica Zoo will be closed at 1:00pm on 6/1 for wine in the wilderness and will reopen with normal hours on 6/2!