Strix varia
(Barred Owl)

Order: Strigiformes
Order Description: Owls
Family: Strigidae
Family Description: Typical Owls

Physical Description:
17-24" (43-60 cm). Whitish gray with dark barring across chest and streaked lengthwise on belly. Puffy head with brown eyes.

Similar Species- Spotted Owl, Great Gray Owl

Usually eight accented hoots, in two groups of four.

Resident from portions of Alaska, southern British Columbia, western Washington, eastern Oregon, and northeastern California, east through northern Idaho and northwestern Montana to portions of south-central Canada. Also resident in portions of eastern Canada and eastern, midwestern, and southern United States. Appears to be expanding range southward in Idaho.

Found in dense woodlands and forests with large, mature, decadent coniferous or hardwood trees providing secure nesting cavities. May prefer older stands, but uses earlier stages of forest in succession if enough large trees, snags, or nest boxes are present. Also found in swamps and wooded river valleys, often in areas bordering streams, marshes, and meadows, but also in upland areas (use reflects vegetation types rather than water proximity).

Eats mice, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and other mammals. Small mammals such as voles, deer mice, and shrews often comprise bulk of diet.

Nests in abandoned or natural cavity in standing snag. NocturnalClick word for definition. Flies at low altitude to locate prey. Birds feeding young may also forage diurnally. Opportunistic foraging may occur at any time. Minnesota study found home range was usually less than 400 ha (but up to 760) over 2-7 mo; boundaries generally remained constant from year to year, with no overlap (usually), except for mated pair. Annual home range averaged 282 ha in Michigan. Reported densityClick word for definition was 0.03-1.0 pairs/km2. Species has become established in northern and central Idaho since at least 1968.

Egg-laying occurs January-May, depending on range. clutchClick word for definition size varies from 2-3 eggs; incubation lasts 28- 33 days. Young may leave nest at 4-5 wk, fly at 6 wk, but receive some food from parents until 4 mo.

Element Code: ABNSB12020
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
National Rank: N5

Important State References:
Olson, R.A., T. Craig, and E. Craig. 1978. Recent records of the barred owl, Strix varia, in Northern Idaho. J. Id. Acad. Sci. 14:24-25.

Photo by R. Bennetts,© 1999
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.