Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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The Honey Bee Cafe will be closed today. The Hofman Dog Haus will be open and Dippin' Dots are available in the Animal Health Center.

Barred Owl

Strix varia

Barred owls are large, stocky owls with rounded heads, no ear tufts, and medium length, rounded tails. They are so-called because they have dark-brown bars on their white plumage. They are only slightly smaller than their cousins the Great Horned owls, but are much less aggressive.

Range & Habitat

Barred owls live in large, mature forests made up of both deciduous trees and evergreens, often near water. They nest in tree cavities. In the Northwest, Barred owls have moved into old-growth coniferous forest, where they compete with the threatened Spotted Owl.

Conservation Status: Least Concern


In the Wild:  Young rabbits, fish, voles, shrews, rats, mice, small reptiles, amphibians and small birds.

At the Zoo:  Mice, rats and chicks.

Life Span

In the Wild: 10 years
In Human Care: 20+ years

Fun Facts about the Barred Owl

  •  Barred owls don’t migrate, and they don’t even move around very much. One study showed that of 158 owls that were banded and then found later, none had moved farther than 6 miles away.
  •  Despite their generally sedentary nature, Barred owls have recently expanded their range into the Pacific Northwest. There, they are displacing and hybridizing with spotted owls—their slightly smaller, less aggressive cousins—which are already threatened from habitat loss.
  • Their hoot is a deep baritone call that sounds like "Who cooks for you?"
  • The Barred owl's biggest predator is its cousin the Great Horned owl. Although they may live in the same area, a Barred owl will move to a different part of its territory to avoid a Great Horned owl.



·       IUCN Red List; Barred Owl., retrieved December 21, 2020.

·        Cornell Lab of Ornithology; All About Birds website.; retrieved December 21, 2020.

·        National Audubon Society website,;; retrieved December 21, 2020.




Updated June 13, 2023
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