Barred Owl

Strix varia

The barred owl is a common owl in eastern Minnesota. It is easily identified by its evening call, which sounds like who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all.


General description: The barred owl is a medium-sized grayish-brown bird of prey that has a dark ring around its face. It looks similar to a great horned owl, but it is slightly smaller and has no ear tufts. The barred owl has dark eyes, which is unlike most Minnesota owls that have yellow eyes,

Length: Between 17 and 20 inches.

Weight: One to two pounds.

Sounds: Loud distinctive hooting, eerie wails and screeches.


Barred owls begin nesting in March. They nest in hollow trees, in abandoned nests of other animals or in nest boxes. The female lays two or three white eggs, which hatch in 28 to 33 days. The newly hatched young are covered with fine white down. Young barred owls leave the nest four to five weeks after hatching.


Barred owls eat mice, squirrels, rabbits, birds, frogs, fish and crayfish.


Great horned owl, hawks, and raccoons.

barred owl

Habitat and range

Dense forested areas, including swamps.

Population and management

Minnesota's barred owl population appears to be stable. Like all owls, the barred owl is a nongame bird, which means it can't be legally hunted or trapped.

Fun facts

A barred owl's right ear is higher than its left ear. Hearing from two different angles helps it pinpoint the location of prey.

Range Map

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