Barred Owls

Location: Indiana

Camera Host: Wild Birds Unlimited

The 2018 Barred Owl Cam Season Ends With All Owlets Fledged!

The Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl Cam is going offline for the season on Tuesday, May 15. The youngest owlet "Dock" was the third and final owlet to leave the nest box, making a successful jump to a nearby branch on Sunday, May 13. Now the owls will begin their next stage of development as they spend the next 5 weeks learning to fly and navigate the forest under their parents' watchful eye. Thanks for learning along with us while watching the Barred Owls raise another successful nest in 2018!

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July 20, 2018

2018 WBU Barred Owl Cam Season Highlights

Watch a pair of brown-and-white feathered forest dwellers work around the clock to raise fluffy owlets over the breeding season in these highlights from the fifth season of the Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl Cam! 

May 13, 2018

Cam Season Ends With Youngest Owlet's Fledge!

The third and final Barred Owl chick has fledged! After 24 days in the nest box, the youngest owlet "Dock" made it official after taking its first short flight to a nearby tree yesterday evening. Watch the clip of Dock's fledge captured by one of our keen-eyed volunteers. This marks the fifth consecutive season that the Barred Owls on cam have successfully hatched and fledged all of their young! Now that the owls have entered the wild world outside of the nest box, the next stage of development begins. Over the next five weeks, the owls will learn to navigate the forest as they develop their flying and hunting skills under the watchful eyes of their parents. Come autumn, they will disperse from their natal grounds in search of their own territories. Good luck little ones! A special thanks to our cam host Jim Carpenter and Wild Birds Unlimited? for making the cam possible. Thanks to all of our viewers for watching and learning along with us—until next year! More...

May 11, 2018

Female Visits Youngest Owlet, Dock, In Nest Box

After multiple feeding visits last night, the Barred Owls continue to care for their youngest owlet in the nest box. It won't be long until Dock leaves the nest box, officially ending the nesting period for the Barred Owls.  

July 20, 2018

2018 WBU Barred Owl Cam Season Highlights

Watch a pair of brown-and-white feathered forest dwellers work around the clock to raise fluffy owlets over the breeding season in these highlights from the fifth season of the Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl Cam! 

May 11, 2018

Female Visits Youngest Owlet, Dock, In Nest Box

After multiple feeding visits last night, the Barred Owls continue to care for their youngest owlet in the nest box. It won't be long until Dock leaves the nest box, officially ending the nesting period for the Barred Owls.  

May 08, 2018

Adult Barred Owl Stops By Nest Box Perch With Young Opossum

One of the adult Barred owls stops by the box with what looks to be a young opossum—the first marsupial that's been documented at the nest this season!  

May 13

Cam Season Ends With Youngest Owlet's Fledge!

The third and final Barred Owl chick has fledged! After 24 days in the nest box, the youngest owlet "Dock" made it official after taking its first short flight to a nearby tree yesterday evening. Watch the clip of Dock's fledge captured by one of our keen-eyed volunteers. This marks the fifth consecutive season that the Barred Owls on cam have successfully hatched and fledged all of their young! Now that the owls have entered the wild world outside of the nest box, the next stage of development begins. Over the next five weeks, the owls will learn to navigate the forest as they develop their flying and hunting skills under the watchful eyes of their parents. Come autumn, they will disperse from their natal grounds in search of their own territories. Good luck little ones! A special thanks to our cam host Jim Carpenter and Wild Birds Unlimited? for making the cam possible. Thanks to all of our viewers for watching and learning along with us—until next year! More...

May 09

Second Owlet, Dickory, Fledges To Nearby Tree!

Dickory has fledged! At 31 days post-hatch, the second oldest owlet took its first leap into the wild world outside of the nest box in the evening hours of May 9. In this clip from the Barred Owl cam, watch Dickory clamber up a nearby tree shortly after making the jump. Cam host Jim Carpenter of Wild Birds Unlimited reports that Dickory is 15 feet up a tree in his backyard in the morning after fledge and that both parents are in the woods paying a lot of attention to their young.  

May 08

Oldest Owlet, Hickory, Fledges As Dickory Branches

The oldest owlet has fledged and another has branched on the Barred Owl cam! Just after 8:00 PM yesterday, May 8, Hickory fledged while climbing around the perch in front of the nest box. Dickory, the second oldest owlet, eventually returned to the nest box. With owls, fledging and falling are often synonymous. Their flight abilities at “fledge” are not fully developed, and they spend time on the ground, clambering around branches, climbing trees, and being cared for by the parents for weeks after leaving the nest. Our cam host checked around after arriving home but was unable to locate the owlet—hopefully we'll have a chance to get photos to share in the future! More...

Barred Owl

Tree

Nest Placement

Barred Owls usually nest in a natural cavity, 20–40 feet high in a large tree. They may also use stick platform nests built by other animals (including hawks, crows, ravens, and squirrels), as well as human-made nest boxes. Barred Owls may prospect a nest site as early as a year before using it. No one knows whether the male or the female chooses the site.

Nest Description

Barred Owls do little or nothing to change an existing tree cavity or abandoned platform nest. They may add lichen, fresh green conifer sprigs, or feathers to a stick platform nest, and they may flatten or remove the top of an old squirrel nest. Cavities measure 10–13 inches wide and 14–21 inches deep (sometimes much deeper, with one cavity recorded as nearly 8 feet deep).

Clutch Size

1-5 eggs

Incubation Period

28-33 days

Nestling Period

28-35 days

Egg Description

Pure white, with a rough surface.

Condition at Hatching

Helpless and covered with white down, with closed eyes.

Mammals

Food

Barred Owls eat many kinds of small animals, including squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, rabbits, birds (up to the size of grouse), amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. They hunt by sitting and waiting on an elevated perch, while scanning all around for prey with their sharp eyes and ears. They may perch over water and drop down to catch fish, or even wade in shallow water in pursuit of fish and crayfish. Though they do most of their hunting right after sunset and during the night, sometimes they feed during the day. Barred Owls may temporarily store their prey in a nest, in the crook of a branch, or at the top of a snag. They swallow small prey whole and large prey in pieces, eating the head first and then the body.

Typical Voice

Barred Owls have a distinctive hooting call of 8–9 notes, described as “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” This call carries well through the woods and is fairly easy to imitate. During courtship, mated pairs perform a riotous duet of cackles, hoots, caws and gurgles.more sounds

See full Species Info at All About Birds

About the Nest

Jim Carpenter, President and CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited, has hosted a camera-equipped owl box in his wooded backyard since 1999. Set more than 30 feet high against the trunk of a pignut hickory tree, this Barred Owl box was first occupied in 2006. Since then, the box has hosted several nests, including successful attempts since 2013. Barred Owl Box Installation

The camera system was updated in 2013 with an Axis P3364LVE security camera and microphone mounted to the side of the box and connected to Jim’s house via 200 feet of ethernet cable. To keep predators like raccoons from investigating the nest, aluminum flashing was wrapped around the tree. An infrared illuminator in the box means you can keep track of the owls’ comings and goings throughout the night (don’t worry—the light is invisible to the owls).

About the Barred Owls

Since the birds aren’t banded, we can’t tell whether this is the same pair as in past years. Although male and female Barred Owls look alike in their plumage, females can be up to a third bigger than males. You can also tell the difference between them by watching their behavior; only the female incubates the eggs and chicks, but the male is responsible for the bulk of the feeding, ferrying prey items to the incubating female, and sharing them with her inside and outside of the box.

For the second year in a row, the female laid her first egg on March 5; if all goes well, we can expect the owlets to start hatching between April 5 – 10. They’ll leave the nest four to five weeks after hatching.

Learn more about Barred Owls in our AllAboutBirds Species Guide.