Who’s There? Meet North America’s Barred Owl

Also known as the Hoot Owl, these large, round-headed birds get their name from the bar-like marks on their feathers. They are extremely aware of their own boundaries and show this to others through physical actions. Fossils of barred owls, dating back at least 11,000 years, have been dug up in Florida, Tennessee, and Ontario.

A Bird that Does Not Migrate

The Barred owl is often found near water and matured forests. Mature forests offer a higher diversity of prey and are likely to have more suitable cavities for nesting. As mentioned previously, they can be found across Canada and the eastern United States. These brown and white birds enjoy spending their time close to water and do not migrate for any season. They are often found either living in the same place or no more than 6 miles away.

Living in the same region all year long allows these birds to have access to all small animals and maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. Their prey includes chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, birds, and other crustaceans. Barred owls are carnivores that indulge in hunting throughout dusk, dawn and through the night.

The barred owl uses sounds to express itself throughout the day. A distinctive hooting call of around 8 – 9 notes that is described as “Who cooks for you? Who cools for you -all?” is used often for courtship, signals the presence of a predator and more. The adults may also snap their bills during squabbles over food or authority.

A pair of Barred Owl captured by Fan Song
The Owls by Fan Song

Invasive to Some Parts of North America

Although the owls are native to eastern North America, they are now considered invasive to the Pacific Northwest due to the threat they pose to the Spotted Owl—their smaller, less aggressive cousin.

Because both barred and spotted owls depend on old-growth forests, these two species are now competing for food and space—causing the displacement of spotted owls that have lived in those forests for many years. Overlogging and other human activities are accelerating this problem, making barred owls one of the fastest-growing invasive species in parts of North America.

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The post Who’s There? Meet North America’s Barred Owl appeared first on Nature Canada.

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