Barred owl

(Strix varia)




Facts about this animal

A large, chunky owl with a total length of 53 cm (40.5 to 61 cm. Males weigh 468-774 g, the larger females 610-1050 g. The eyes are dark. Dark barring on the upper breast, dark streaking below. The sexes are alike in appearance.

The Barred owl is mainly nocturnal, daytime roosts are well hidden. It inhabits predominantly denser, darker forests with plenty of old trees, often close to wetlands and river courses. Ecologically, the barred owl replaces, in North America, the Strix uralensis of the Old World.

The barred owl feeds mainly on mice, voles, shrews, squirrels and hares, but takes also frogs, reptiles, fish, crayfish and insects.

It nests in tree holes or uses abandoned nests of other birds. Occasionally the nest may be on the ground. A clutch consists usually of 2-3 eggs, which are incubated for 28 days by the female alone, while the male provides his spouse with food. The young begin to leave the nest at an age of about 6 weeks.

Did you know?
that most birds have eyes on their sides of their head (which helps them to see sideways and backwards)? Owls, however, have both eyes in the front which gives them good depth perception.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Strix varia
Name (English) Barred owl
Name (French) Chouette rayée
Name (German) Streifenkauz
Name (Spanish) Cárabo de franjas
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Valerie Abbott



Range North America: Canada, Mexico, USA. Vagrants also in Bermuda.
Habitat Coniferous or mixed forest of river bottoms and swamps but also in upland woods.
Wild population Thew global population is roughly estimated to be 560,000 individuals (Partners in flight 2008)
Zoo population 113 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Barred owl


How this animal should be transported

Owls travel best in completely dark boxes. Boxes should be slightly longer than the head to tail length of the bird intended to travel, and wide and high enough for the bird to be able to stand or lie down in comfort without banging its shoulders or head. A well made wooden box with no perches is required, with carpet or some other non slip surface fixed on the floor and a padded ceiling, with air-holes on either side. The easiest type of door to use is an upward sliding door at one end. The door can then be slid up a small amount; the bird visualised before being grasped by the legs, carefully, through the small opening before sliding the door fully open for removal. A handle fixed to the top of the box makes carrying easier.

For air transport, Container Note 20 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The barred owl is not threatened in the wild, and the main reason for keeping this species in zoos is educational. Animal welfare may be another reason, because, as in the case of other common species, zoos may come into the situation of caring for injured birds, which can no more be released.