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Barred owl (Strix varia)

Barred owl
Barred owl
Personal information
Our male barn owl, Othello, was born in 1997 and came to the Zoo in 2000.

Status in the wild

The barred owl has been successfully expanding its range in recent years. It is not currently an endangered species.


The barred owl resides throughout North America and can be found across most of the eastern half of the continent, from Florida northward to southern Canada. They prefer mature forests and heavily-wooded swamps.


Mainly mice as well as rabbits, rats, chipmunks, foxes, possums, bats and weasels. In addition, they also feed on small fish, turtles, frogs, snakes, lizards, crayfish, scorpions, beetles, crickets and grasshoppers.
  • Barred owls have a special inner eyelid, or nictitating membrane, which blocks out bright sunlight and gives them excellent eyesight during the day as well as at night.
  • Their call has been likened to the phrase "Who cooks for you!"
  • These owls have been known to interbreed with the spotted owl.
  • This species takes a permanent nesting site, but may wander after the nesting season.