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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 10:11 EDT

Barred Owl

The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a large owl. Its breeding habitat is dense woods across Canada, the eastern United States and south to Central America. It is known also as eight hooter, rain owl, wood owl and striped owl, but is best known as the hoot owl. It nests in a tree cavity, sometimes holes that have been used by a crow or squirrel.

The adult is 17.5 inches long with a 44 inch wingspan. It has a pale face with dark rings around the eyes, a yellow bill and dark eyes. The under parts are light with brown streaks. The upper parts are mottled brown. There are brown bars on the chest. The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons. This owl does not have ear tufts, a distinction from Short-eared Owl. The call of the Barred Owl is a whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo-whooo-ah, which can be easily imitated. Owls will often return calls or fly closer to inspect the person making the noise.

Barred Owls hunt by waiting on a high perch at night, or flying through the woods and swooping down on prey. They may also hunt near dawn or dusk. They mainly eat small mammals, such as mice and rabbits, and also small birds. Of the North American owls, they are the species most likely to be active during the day, especially when raising their chicks.

Barred Owl