Barred Owl

This adult barred owl (Strix varia) and almost-fledged juvenile were out and about in the early morning in May. The adult was absolutely silent in flight, and I would not have noticed it if it had not flown directly in front of me.

Barred owls live all over the eastern half of the US. They don’t migrate, and actually maintain pretty small territories (about 6 square miles) but they have still been popping up on the west coast, being sighted north into Canada and south into South America. This is actually somewhat unfortunate, as they are encroaching on the range of their cousin, the spotted owl (Strix occidentalis), and even interbreeding with them.

Prey consists mainly of small mammals, but barred owls are opportunistic predators and will also eat birds, reptiles, and amphibians as well as invertebrates. Among other vocalizations, barred owls have a distinctive call which sounds like “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” Imitating this call within a barred owl territory can summon the resident owl to give you a stern talking-to.

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