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CRITTER SPOTLIGHT: Barred Owl: Strix Varia


Seeing an owl in person is incredible. Having two living in your backyard and seeing and hearing them daily is absolutely magical. Two barred owls, Strix varia have taken up residence in our backyard. We have a very mature forest, which barred owls prefer. It is not clear whether the owls have nested in a hollow tree or if they have taken over the nest of other birds. Some barred owls will use open nests made by hawks or crows. So far we have only seen the owls sitting and resting in the treetops. They have given us no indication of where their nest is located. We will continue to observe them and if we do spot their nest I will provide an update!


Most owls are nocturnal, however, barred owls are known to be active at dawn and dusk. The term for this is crepuscular. We have seen our owls out in the middle of the day but they are always quietly resting in the treetops.


Barred owls eat a variety of animals including squirrels, mice, rabbits, frogs, snakes, insects, and sometimes even crustaceans. A neat fact about these owls is that they can have pink feathers under their top layer of feathers if they are in an area where there are a lot of crayfish to snack on. Here is a picture of a barred owl feasting on a crayfish.

Another cool fact about barred owls is that they have many different sounds that they can make. The most common hoot of the barred owl sounds as if they are saying, "Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all." Here is a great article that provides some barred owl sounds. https://www.audubon.org/news/hear-many-different-hoots-barred-owl


Barred owls mate for life and usually have one to three white eggs each year. The female sits on the egg or eggs to incubate for 28-33 days. The male goes out to hunt for food. Owlets will sometimes stay around their nest for up to six months, which is long compared to other owl species. At about 10-12 weeks owlets can fly.


If you have a critter that you would like to learn more about, please email me at cmorissette@narrabay.com so I can feature it in a future post.


Enjoy the beautiful weather this week!


Mrs. Morissette



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