Barred Owl
Strix varia

Photo of a barred owl ©


This medium- sized owl is approximately 16-25” long, grayish in color, with white horizontal streaking on its chest and vertical streaking on its belly. The Barred Owl has a round head with no ear tufts, off-white facial disk with dark trim, dark brown eyes, and a light colored beak.

Hunting Techniques and Prey:

Typically a perch hunter, the Barred Owl will sit and wait for prey to come by. It is an opportunistic feeder that eats a wide variety of animals including small rodents such as voles, young hares, bats, mink, weasels, squirrels, various birds, and even large insects.


Prefers deep moist forests, wooded swamps, and woodlands near waterways. The Barred Owl nests in cavities but will also use abandoned hawk or crow nests. In Alaska it is only found in the forests of Southeast.


Barred Owl Call (MP3 file 227 kB)
Calls year-round, although courtship occurs in the winter months. Males give a lively series of nine hoots with a pause after the fourth one and the last hoot dropping abruptly at the end: hoo hoo hoo hoo, hoo hoo hoo hoo aaaww. Their call is often likened to the words, “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.” They also participate in wildly raucous courtship duets where the hoots sound more like bawls and screams.

barred owl range map
  rare  Rare

Owlmanac Cover This information is from The Alaska Owlmanac: A guide to the identification, habits, and habitat of ten owl species found in Alaska.