What Is A Barred Owl?
The Barred Owl, Strix varia, was first documented by [wiki]Benjamin Smith Barton [/wiki]. These owls are medium-large size, grayish brown, with stripes (bars) on the chest and abdomen. Their heads are round, and these owls are easily recognizable by the round “disk” that surrounds their eyes. Barred Owls have a wingspan of about 38 – 50 inches, and they weigh between one to two and a half pounds, which seems light compared to their size. A Barred Owl’s call sounds like “Who who who whooooo,” or “Who cooks for you?”
Barred Owl Behavior
Barred Owls are nocturnal but hunt at different times depending on the circumstances. If they are breeding, for example, they may begin hunting just before dark, or if it is cloudy, they may begin hunting earlier. For the most part, Barred Owls feed on small rodents, like the vole, mouse, rat, and rabbits, but they also sometimes consume opossums, weasels, small birds, and so on, as they can be opportunistic when it comes to food.
Barred Owls mate for life, and they raise their young together. The male owl will bring food to the female while she is nesting, and when their babies are in the nest or branching, one parent will hunt while the other keeps an eye out for predators. If you see two Barred Owls on the ground, it is best to keep clear of them, as they are probably trying to gather their young back into the safety of tree branches, and they can be aggressive when protecting babies!
Young Barred Owls
Barred Owls usually lay between two to four eggs, which hatch in 28-33 days. Baby Barred Owls leave the nest at about four weeks old and sit on branches outside their nest. They are called “branchers” at this age, and their parents will continue to feed and care for them until they are about four months old.
Occasionally, a young Barred Owl will have trouble branching and will be found wandering around on the ground. Most of the time, the young Barred will find his way back onto a branch, but many times, he falls prey to another predator. Great Horned Owls are their greatest enemy, but young owls that have not learned how to defend them self can be overtaken by other types of animals, including raccoons or even a large cat.
How to Help a Misplaced or Injured Barred Owl
If you find an injured adult Barred Owl, immediately call the Wildlife Resource agency in your area. They will refer you to someone who can care for the injured owl. Most veterinarians will also know exactly who to refer you to in your area.
If you find a young Barred Owl, observe him for a little while to see if the parents are in the area. If they are, you will probably hear them calling back and forth, and if you wait until dusk, you should be able to spot the parents in the trees above. However, if the baby owl is in danger or you haven’t seen or heard the adult owls, rescue workers may come out to help relocate the owl or re-branch them, depending on the situation. They are experienced, and it is best to follow their direction and let them tend to the baby owl.