Barred Owl

photo by Paul H. Franklin

In Alabama during: Fall | Spring | Summer | Winter

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Strix varia

OTHER NAMES:Swamp owl, hoot owl, rain owl, eight hooter.

STATUS: Breeder. Common in all seasons and in all regions. Lowest Conservation Concern.

DESCRIPTION: Barred owls belong to Order Strigiformes, as do all birds who have relatively large, round heads with eyes fixed in their sockets. More specifically, they are members of the Family Strigidae. The barred owl is one of Alabama’s larger owls, with adults attaining lengths of 20 to 24 inches with wingspans of 40 to 50 inches. Their general appearance is somewhat chunky with a thick body and short tail. Overall coloration is brownish gray with a creamy or buff breast and belly. The upper breast is darkly barred (hence their common name) with the lower breast and belly area vertically streaked. In flight, the wings appear short, rounded, and broad.Barred owls have no ear tufts, but have well defined eye disks.

Their beaks are yellow and their eyes are dark brown.The barred owl’s best known call is a series of eight hoots best characterized by the phrases “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all.” They are also capable of making a variety of clicks, clucks, barks, squeals, and whistles, as well as chuckling, grunting, and laughing sounds.

The most likely of Alabama’s owls to be active by day, the barred owl may be heard at almost any hour. Barred owls have very acute hearing to go along with their well-known night-adapted vision. To compensate for the fact their eyes can’t move, barred owls can rotate their heads about 270 degrees on their neck.


Learn more from Cornell’s All About Birds