Barred Owls

Location: Indiana

Camera Host: Wild Birds Unlimited

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May 16, 2016

Rhyme, Reason & Rebel

All three of the owlets on our Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl cam branched successfully from the nest box at the end of last week! Over 2300 viewers cast votes to name the owls, and the winning triad was "Rhyme, Reason, & Rebel." Thanks to everyone who participated! The cams will be going dark today as we move the cam to offline status. Thanks for watching and see you next spring! 

May 12, 2016

Second and Third Owlets Branch

The last two owlets left the nest box area today—the first launched itself purposely from the top of the box, while the second climbed the trunk above the box and disappeared from view. The cam host has spotted the two owls on site, and the female is still provisioning them. It's likely the first-to-branch owlet is slightly farther away and will be found with subsequent searches. More...

May 10, 2016

First Owlet Branched

At night the oldest owlet left the nest box and set out somewhat accidentally into the wide world. Barred Owls are among the earliest owls to leave the nest, and the owlets on our cam are ready to leave, only 33 days after hatching! It is normal for Barred Owls to fall to the ground while branching – the nest box is pretty high up so the oldest owlet likely fell safely onto an adjoining branch or climbed up a tree if it fell on the ground. 

May 09, 2016

Preening

Mama Barred Owl visits her three chicks and gives one a through preening. The chicks could fledge any day now! 

May 04, 2016

Barred Owl Cam Female Returns and Preens Owlets

Here the female adult returns and preens the fast-growing chicks! 

April 24, 2016

Frog Delivery

The owlets on ??Barred Owl? Cam are around three weeks old and already so much bigger than hatch day! Check out this video of the female Barred Owl bringing a frog to the nest, which is promptly devoured by one of the younger owlets. Thanks to Jody P. for the video. 

May 16

Rhyme, Reason & Rebel

All three of the owlets on our Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl cam branched successfully from the nest box at the end of last week! Over 2300 viewers cast votes to name the owls, and the winning triad was "Rhyme, Reason, & Rebel." Thanks to everyone who participated! The cams will be going dark today as we move the cam to offline status. Thanks for watching and see you next spring! 

May 12

Second and Third Owlets Branch

The last two owlets left the nest box area today—the first launched itself purposely from the top of the box, while the second climbed the trunk above the box and disappeared from view. The cam host has spotted the two owls on site, and the female is still provisioning them. It's likely the first-to-branch owlet is slightly farther away and will be found with subsequent searches. More...

May 10

First Owlet Branched

At night the oldest owlet left the nest box and set out somewhat accidentally into the wide world. Barred Owls are among the earliest owls to leave the nest, and the owlets on our cam are ready to leave, only 33 days after hatching! It is normal for Barred Owls to fall to the ground while branching – the nest box is pretty high up so the oldest owlet likely fell safely onto an adjoining branch or climbed up a tree if it fell on the ground. 

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 in Zionsville, Indiana, 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.

The female laid the 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.