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The Barred Owl Calls

The call depends on the time of year... and the gender!

Barred Owls are very territorial, and they don't migrate. Solitary calls from a male in early spring probably mean that he has not attracted a mate. In May and June, he continues to hoot, though less frequently. By summer, breeding season has passed. Maybe this solitary Barred Owl is what some scientists call a "non-breeding floater". Perhaps his patch of woods is just too small to host a pair of owls year round.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

The Barred Owl Calls

Written by Chris Peterson

This is BirdNote!
[Two-phased hoot of a Barred Owl]
I’ve been hearing an owl, a Barred Owl, much of this year and last. In January, even though it was cold and dark, its call drew me outside. [Two-phased hoot of a Barred Owl]
I think it was the one I heard last year, because these large, gray-brown owls are very territorial, and they do not migrate.
Both males and females make the signature nine-note hoot – “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” [Two-phased hoot]
But throughout the winter, I heard only solitary calls.
It was probably a male. If he had attracted a mate, I would have been hearing a duet like this, a caterwauling courtship that can sound downright peculiar.
[Maniacal sound of Barred Owls in courtship]
One day in April I found him, being dive-bombed by crows while he tried to sleep in a deciduous tree. [A few crows mobbing]
In May and June, he continued to hoot, ‘though less frequently.
[Two-phased hoot]
Now in late summer, the breeding season has passed. What have I witnessed? Could this Barred Owl be what some scientists call a “non-breeding floater?” Is his patch of woods just too small to host a pair of owls year round?  
When it comes to Barred Owls, there’s a lot more to the story. Plus, you can see a photo of one on our website, birdnote.org. I’m Mary McCann.
###

Calls of the Barred Owl provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.A. Keller
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org     August 2012     Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#080807BADOKPLU   BADO-02b

comments 3Show

Has anyone recorded the strange burry calls of the young begging for food?

I'm almost positive I heard this owl just a few weeks ago. Is that possible?

Thank you for your questions about Barred Owls!

Gary, recordings of the young do exist. Here is an example from the Macaulay Library: http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/4549/strix-varia-barred-owl-united-stat...

Jocelyn, the answer to your question depends on where in North America you live; if it's either the Eastern US or the Pacific Northwest, Barred Owls are likely. http://ebird.org/ebird/map/brdowl?neg=true&env.minX=&env.minY=&env.maxX=...

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