Barred Owls

Location: Indiana

Camera Host: Wild Birds Unlimited

The 2019 Barred Owl Cam Season Ends With All Owlets Fledged!

The Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl Cam is going offline for the season on Monday, May 13. Both Fluff and Puff fledged from the nestbox on May 7 and now the young 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. Stay tuned to the @WBU_Owls Twitter feed for updates from the cam host. Thanks for learning along with us while watching the Barred Owls raise another successful nest in 2019.

Find more about Weather in Indianapolis, IN

August 14, 2019

2019 Barred Owl Cam Highlights

Relive all the wonderful memories from the 2019 Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl cam as the owls raise their downy duo in the rural forests of Indiana! 

May 07, 2019

Barred Owls Say Goodbye To Nest Box As Youngest Owlet Accidentally Fledges

After its sibling fledged with confidence last night, the youngest Barred Owl "Puff" decided to investigate the branches outside the nest box but got more than bargained for. Despite its best efforts to hang in there, the owlet accidentally "fludged" at 8:37 p.m. and was later seen climbing up a nearby tree. This behavior is typical for young owls, who will spend the next 6 weeks learning to fly and forage on their own while the adults feed and give them shelter. Thanks to our cam host and Wild Birds Unlimited CEO Jim Carpenter, our volunteers, and viewers for another great year with this Barred Owl family! More...

May 07, 2019

First Owlet Fledges At The WBU Barred Owls Nest!

Both Barred Owl chicks fledged the box on the evening of May 7! At day 34 post-hatch, watch the eldest owlet make a short, confident flight from the nest box perch to a nearby tree that is followed by a quick check in from one of the adults.  More...

August 14, 2019

2019 Barred Owl Cam Highlights

Relive all the wonderful memories from the 2019 Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl cam as the owls raise their downy duo in the rural forests of Indiana! 

May 07, 2019

Barred Owl Chick Climbs Up To Ceiling Of Nest Box

Watch one of the owlets investigate the ceiling of the nest box. Young Barred Owls are good climbers. After they leave the nest box for good, they'll spend the next few weeks scaling nearby trees before they are able to sustain flight.  

May 06, 2019

Monday Morning Preening Session For Owlets

At day 33 of the nestling period, the owlets are primed to leave the nest box at any moment. Watch the female stop by for a Monday morning preening session (and possibly some encouragement) at the nest box entrance. 

May 07

Barred Owls Say Goodbye To Nest Box As Youngest Owlet Accidentally Fledges

After its sibling fledged with confidence last night, the youngest Barred Owl "Puff" decided to investigate the branches outside the nest box but got more than bargained for. Despite its best efforts to hang in there, the owlet accidentally "fludged" at 8:37 p.m. and was later seen climbing up a nearby tree. This behavior is typical for young owls, who will spend the next 6 weeks learning to fly and forage on their own while the adults feed and give them shelter. Thanks to our cam host and Wild Birds Unlimited CEO Jim Carpenter, our volunteers, and viewers for another great year with this Barred Owl family! More...

May 07

First Owlet Fledges At The WBU Barred Owls Nest!

Both Barred Owl chicks fledged the box on the evening of May 7! At day 34 post-hatch, watch the eldest owlet make a short, confident flight from the nest box perch to a nearby tree that is followed by a quick check in from one of the adults.  More...

April 30

The WBU Owlet Names Are In: Meet "Fluff" and "Puff"

"Fluff" and "Puff" have been voted as the winning names for this delightful, downy duo from the 2019 Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl cam! We'd like to thank the nearly 4000 viewers who cast their vote to name this year's owlets. It was the closest race yet. The winning monikers came in first place with 1351 votes—only two votes ahead of the second-place finishers "Owlivia" and "Hoodini" with 1349 votes. What a fantastic finish! 

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

28-28 days

Egg Description

Pure white, with a rough surface.

Condition at Hatching

Helpless and covered with white down, with closed eyes.

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.