barred owl (Strix varia)

The dark eyes and constant vocalization give the barred owl away.

The familiar "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?" is the signature call of this common owl of the lowland woods. Many people refer to them simply as "hoot owls."

While they appear similar in size to the great horned owl, they are not nearly as powerful, possessing smaller talons and weighing only about one pound. They are made up mostly of feathers!

Great horned owls have large feather tufts on their heads and have large yellow eyes. Barred owls have dark eyes and no feather tufts.

Barred owls have also made their home in town, nesting in parks, like Washington Park in Springfield, Illinois. The Illinois Raptor Center received several calls in the Spring of 2000 about branching barred owls in the Washington Park area. These owls are just learning to fly. Keep pets and children away!

A barred owl chick (left) and its parent peer out from a secluded perch in Springfield's Washington Park.
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 Quick Facts about barred owls:

Its diet consists primarily of mice, but includes mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects, spiders and crawfish.


A Commonly "heard" owl


Despite the fact that barred owls appear to be large, they weight only about one pound.


Bottomland forests, parks, suburban areas.

Number of young:

2-3 eggs. The young can be heard making a hissing sound as they beg for food.


The "Hoot Owl"