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Bird Identification

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Barred Owl

Strix varia L 21" (53cm)


play song/call for the barred owl

Photo by Maslowski Wildlife Productions.

The classic "eight hooter," the barred owl lives in old forests and woods along rivers, swamps, and lakes. The nest is typically in a deep hollow in a dead tree but is sometimes in old crow or hawk nests. It feeds on small mammals and invertebrates, frequently sharing a territory with red-shouldered hawks. The call, perhaps the most famous among North American owls, consists of eight sharp hoots, almost always written as who-cooks-for-you who-cooks-for-you-alllll, the last note slurred and dropping. They also give a variety of clucks, whistles, barks, and bill snapping noises, especially when an observer is near the nest. Rarely seen, it is sometimes heard calling during the day in spring. The most frequent daytime call is the last note of the common vocalization, the hoo-alll, given once or twice. Barred owls are more common than most people think but their dependence on old forests and riparian habitat makes them vulnerable.

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