all about barred owls

A barred owl "toughs out" the brutal Minnesota winter of 1995-1996.

These wonderful barred owl photos were sent to me by Collin Tanner.  Collin took the photos at the Darlington Provincial Park, approximately 60 km east of Toronto, Canada.  Thanks Collin!!!!!!

Barred Owl Facts


Everyone and their brother has heard the cacaphonous rancor of the barred owl.  Its "who cooks for you....who cooks for you all" call is seemingly, the ubiquitous owl call in North America.   During the breeding season, barred owls engage in vocalizations that sound more like alley cats fighting behind the garbage can than two owls engaged in egg production and young-rearing.  Barred owls rely on small mammals (mice voles, moles) and mid-sized mammals (squirrels, snowshoe hares) for food items. 


Click on the map to see if the barred owl may be found in a forest near you.

Young barred owlet, approximately 3 weeks old.

Habitat Requirements

In northeast Minnesota, barred owls are distributed throughout all habitat types, but are most common in upland, deciduous forests and riverine habitats. The owl prefers broken trees or natural cavities for nesting, especially (in my study area) those found in sugar maple and white pine. Throughout the rest of their North American distribution, barred owls are found in both upland and lowland forests, with a common habitat denominator being the presence of thick canopies.  


Has this ever happened to you?  Let me know your owl stories.  I will post them on my site.


On a cold, starlit night in 1997, I stood on the middle of the Sawbill Trail conducting owl surveys.  I knew there was a barred owl nearby-he had been making his presence know for the last mile-and-a-half of surveys- but once his vocalizations ceased, assumed it had moved away.  Less than 10 seconds later, I vaguely saw a silhouette flying towards from the woods.  As much as one's impulse is to hit the ground, I stood still.  The barred owl flew less than two feet over my head.  There was no sound, only the movement of displaced air on my face.  It was an owl moment forever frozen in time.