The Barred Owl is what is
commonly referred to as the "Hoot Owl" in the southeastern United
States, as its deep hoots are common sounds in the thick forests of the
region. While primarily nocturnal, they are sometimes actively hunting
during daylight hours. They are nearly as large as the Great
Horned Owl, but are generally much less aggressive and unable to directly
compete with them. In South Dakota, they are rare and local, with most sightings
in the extreme southeastern part of the state.
Habitat: Prefers dense woodlands with just a few
scattered clearings. Much of the time they are found in low-lying, swampy
environments. In the eastern United States, they are most often found in
deciduous forests, but in the northern and western parts of their range, can
also be found in coniferous forest.
Diet: Primarily feeds on small mammals
such as mice and shrews, as well as larger mammals including rabbits, squirrels,
and opossums. They will also eat a variety of birds, lizards, snakes,
frogs and toads, salamanders, and large insects. Birds near aquatic
environments will also consume fish and crustaceans.
Behavior: Often most active at dawn and dusk, but
may hunt at any time of day or night. Hunts by either searching from a
high perch, or by flying low through the forest in search of prey.
Paired birds will often call to each other.
Nesting: The nest of a Barred Owl is in a large cavity in a tree, or sometimes in an old
hawk or crow nest. The female lays 2 or 3 eggs, and she does most of the
incubating. When the young hatch, the male typically does most of the
hunting at first while the female stays with the young. The young
typically fledge after about 6 weeks.
Migration: Generally a permanent resident throughout
Conservation Status: Barred Owls are still common and
widespread in much of their normal range, but they have declined locally
where swamp habitat has been destroyed. However, in recent decades
they have expanded their range in western Canada and the Northwest U.S.
In these areas, they have begun to compete with the Spotted Owl, and have
also hybridized with them. Overall, populations are not threatened,
and the IUCN lists the
Barred Owl as a species of "Least Concern".
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Barred Owl"
Photo Information: April 22nd, 2008 - Newton Hills
State Park, South Dakota - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Barred Owl photos.