The Barred Owl is the most likely owl to be seen during daylight. While mostly nocturnal, it often hunts during cloudy days and can be seen at dawn and dusk.
It's call sounds like "who cooks for you, who cooks for you."
One of the things that struck me when seeing this bird was its size and how it was so quite as it flew away. You just never hear any flapping of the wings.
These raptors are large in size. The length of the bird is about 18 inches to 2 feet with females a little larger than males.
The Barred Owl is named for the feather patterns, which are barred with the alternating colors of white and brown, located on its head, chest and back.
The belly is streaked lengthwise with white and brown feathers. The eyes are large and dark brown. The bill is yellow, the face of a Barred Owl has a pale gray disc around each of the eyes.
These discs are outlined with a dark brown line. Just behind the facial disc, the white and brown barred pattern begins and continues down the bird's back.
Feeding primarily on voles, mice and shrews. Other animals consumed include: squirrels rabbits, bats, snakes and even going into water for crayfish and frogs.
Depending on the size of prey determines how the owl eats. Small food is swallowed whole while larger food will be torn apart.
Barred-Owls do not have crops like other birds. Instead, the first part of the stomach has enzymes and acids that digest the food.
The second part of the stomach is the gizzard where the hair and feathers of prey will eventually become pellets which are are regurgitated and dropped to the ground.
These pellets are a clue to where they may be nesting as they're often dropped at the base of the nesting tree.
Courtship can begin as early as December with the males and females calling back and forth.
The courtship behavior includes bowing to each other and wing flapping. Preening each other also occurs.
During the winter these birds are solitary but will reunite with previous mates in late winter.
Mating and nesting primarily begins in March and goes into August. Barred Owls are monogamus with pair bonds lasting as long as both live.
The Barred Owl nesting habits are easy bird to study during nesting as they often reuse the same nest from season to season. Nest can found in an old hawk, squirrel, or crow nest.
Prefers to nest in tree cavities but sometimes will make use of man-made bird houses.
The female will lay up to 5 white eggs but usually lays 2 - 3. While both male and female will sit on the eggs, females are the primary incubators.
Incubation is about 28-33 days and the young will move out of the nest in about 30 days but not fly for another 10 - 12 days.
The young will continue to stay with the adults for as long as 4 - 6 months after fledging.
A word of caution, Barred-Owls may attack people that get too close to a nest site or their young.
We get asked if Barred-Owls will attack humans and dogs. The answer is, ABSOLUTLY! These Owls are very territorial and protective of their young.
I learned firsthand as a friend of mine and I were finishing up a round of disc golf at dusk. The final hole was close to the nest tree.
As my friend was selecting a disc, a Barred-Owl swooped down and pierced two inches under his right eye, behind his right ear and put a hole in his ball cap.
We were aware they were around and where the nest was and respected their space. Always avoid nesting birds of any species.
If photographing these birds, be aware at all times and keep a safe distance. Also be sure you know where each owl is perching.
If you're walking your dog, keep it on a leash and do not go near any young or nest.
Barred-Owls do not migrate and will stay in their own territory for life if there is little risk of predation. Territory size can be between 200 and 400 acres.
Predators inclued: Great-horned Owl and Northern Goshawks which will attack adults and young. In the nest, snakes, raccoons and weasels will eat eggs and young.