Birds of Prey

Barred Owl

Latin name: Strix varia
Weight: 1 ½ to 2 pounds
Wingspan: 40-50 inches
Life expectancy: 10 years

Habitat and Distribution: Barred owls live primarily in lowland forests near streams and swamps. Their range is from the Pacific Northwest (where their range is expanding rapidly and they interbreed with the Spotted Owl) and British Columbia east across Canada into eastern North Dakota, south through Texas and east to the Atlantic Ocean.

Diet: Barred Owls are very opportunistic hunters. They can often be found hunting before dark and will take small mammals, frogs, crayfish, insects, and small birds.

Status: No special status.

Personal Biography: The New Canaan Nature Center's resident Barred Owl came to us on July 6, 2001 after living at the St. Francis Wildlife Center in Tallahassee FL. She has a broken right wing that did not heal correctly which prevented full flight. The severity of the wing injury precludes her release. We now care for the owl and use it in our educational programs

Facts: Named after the bars on its chest the Barred Owl is the most vocal of Eastern owls. It is often called the laughing owl due to its many vocalizations. Its call resembles, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?" It is the only typical owl in eastern North America with brown eyes. Barred Owls are known to sometimes call and hunt during the day.

The Barred Owl usually nests between February and May. They usually lay 2-3 eggs but can lay 4. Both adults incubate the eggs for about 28 days when the eggs hatch. The young can fly at 42 days old.


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You can help support the care of our live animal collection by participating in our Sponsor an Animal program. Your financial support funds the cost of medications, food and personal care, as well as proper housing and upkeep of the animal enclosures. Because each animal's needs are different, the cost of sponsorship varies. For information about animals which are currently available for sponsorship call (203)-966-9577.