Barred Owls

Location: Indiana

Camera Host: Wild Birds Unlimited

The 2017 Barred Owl Cam is Now Offline

The Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl Cam is offline for the 2017 season. Thanks for watching!

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May 12, 2017

Peanut Climbs Out of Sight!

After watching each of its siblings leave the nest, the youngest decided to approach leaving the box by moving upward and climbing out of the frame. Barred Owls commonly move out to surrounding branches before taking their first flights of any distance, and the parents continue to care for the young for months following their branching.  

May 12, 2017

Third and Final Owlet Branches!

After having spent 32 days in the nest box, the third and final owlet made the leap from the Barred Owl nest box to a nearby branch. All three nestlings have now entered the wild, where they'll remain dependent on their parents for food until they reach 4–5 months of age. As their mobility and hunting skills improve, young Barred Owls slowly move away from their nest site, gain independence, and eventually disperse in search of their own territory. More...

May 11, 2017

Second Owlet Fledges From Nest Box

The second Barred Owl nestling fledged at some point over the night on May 11 after having spent 33 days in the nest box. Now only the youngest owl remains in the box! 

May 12, 2017

Peanut Climbs Out of Sight!

After watching each of its siblings leave the nest, the youngest decided to approach leaving the box by moving upward and climbing out of the frame. Barred Owls commonly move out to surrounding branches before taking their first flights of any distance, and the parents continue to care for the young for months following their branching.  

May 09, 2017

Female Owl Brings in Early Morning Grosbeak to Nest Box

The Barred Owls continue to be good providers for their three growing owlets. Here, the female brings in a grosbeak to feed her nestlings.  

May 05, 2017

Owlet Jumps Up to Look Out of Nest Box Hole

Over the past week, the restless Barred Owlets have realized that the nest box hole is their gateway into the wild beyond, and peering out of it has become a popular activity. Only a short while remains until they leave the nest box and begin branching—a stage when the owlets are still flightless but start to explore the reachable areas close to the nest. During this period, they'll still be fed by the parents until they've grown old enough to fly and begin to hunt for themselves.  

May 12

Third and Final Owlet Branches!

After having spent 32 days in the nest box, the third and final owlet made the leap from the Barred Owl nest box to a nearby branch. All three nestlings have now entered the wild, where they'll remain dependent on their parents for food until they reach 4–5 months of age. As their mobility and hunting skills improve, young Barred Owls slowly move away from their nest site, gain independence, and eventually disperse in search of their own territory. More...

May 11

Second Owlet Fledges From Nest Box

The second Barred Owl nestling fledged at some point over the night on May 11 after having spent 33 days in the nest box. Now only the youngest owl remains in the box! 

May 10

The First Owlet Has Fledged on WBU Barred Owl Cam!

The first owlet fledged from the nest box and entered the wild early this morning! It was spotted by our cam host in the woods away from the camera; the parents have seen seen hanging out near the box and tending to the recently fledged owlet. The adults will continue to provide food to their offspring for multiple weeks after they've left the nest box while the young owls hone their flying skills and learn to hunt.  

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.