Elms Environmental Education Center

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October 2015: Barred Owl


Barred Owl
Strix varia

Who am I?

 I am a large brown owl with cute big eyes and a white face.  Like my other owl brothers and sisters I am most active at night, hunting small critters and defending my territory. I am very communicative and talk at length with others of my kind nearby. I say "who-cooks-for-you" in a particularly owl-like way. I can live up to 18 years old. Perhaps I am older than you? I won't be able to lay eggs until I am two years old. Then i will look for a large hole in a tree to make my nest, though I will sometimes use other nests that have been abandoned by large birds like hawks. I really like holes in trees and so I tend to live in forests that have been around long enough to have some pretty big trees.

When I am ready and during the winter I will lay 2 or 3 eggs over a few days. It will take about a month for my babies to hatch. It is cold and I spend a lot of time keeping my eggs warm. So how do I eat when I am sitting on my eggs? Dad to the rescue! He will hunt for me while I am on the nest. About three weeks after our babies hatch we will both be busy hunting and feeding them. Just a couple of weeks later they will be ready to fly to a nearby branch. A big moment for them. Soon they are flying and learning to hunt. We will still care for them for six months or so, just until we are sure they can make it on their own.

Where can you find me?

 I live in woodland areas, preferably the swampy, smelly kind. I generally prefer to live in dense areas and tend to avoid open spaces. I can be found throughout eastern Canada and the eastern United States.

What do I eat?

 Little critters, mostly mice. But I will also eat rabbits and squirrels and snakes and frogs and lizards -- pretty much anything that will fit in my sharp talons.

What might eat me?

 When I am a baby raccoons and weasels will sometimes eat my egg or even me if mom is gone and I can not defend myself. As an adult I have few predators. There is, of course, the nasty Great Horned Owl that will sometimes attack me and those hungry Goshawks are always a threat. Mostly I worry about getting hit by cars. Humans.

Cool reasons why I am the critter of the month!

  • I probably live not far from your house.
  • I am easy to attract -- just play a recording of my voice.
  • I make the classic hoot-owl sound. "who-cooks-for-you"



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