Strix Varia – Barred Owl

Strix Varia - Barred Owl in the USA

Strix varia, the northern barred owl is often known as the striped owl or hoot owl is a big North American owl species. They are real owls from the family Strigidae, genus Strix, which is also the origin of the family name. Barred owls are endemic to eastern North America, but have spread westward and are now considered invasive. Their ideal habitat is mature woods, but they may adapt to open woodlands of all slopes. Their food comprises small mammals, but they are also known to feed on birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

Quick Overview: Strix Varia – Barred Owl
Body size: Around 43-61 in (17-24 cm) and a weight of 835 g (22.4 oz)
Main colors: Gray-White, Gray-brown, Brown, Yellow
Range: Coastal and the Southeastern United States
Migratory Bird: No
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Barred owl Description

Strix varia has a spherical head and a gray-white facial disc. Gray-brown with buff-white borders and subterminal bands. Brown eyes, no ear tufts. Vertical brown stripes go down the neck and upper breast. Strix varia has a dimorphic body with a yellow beak.

Strix-Varia-Barred-Owl in the USA
Strix-Varia-Barred-Owl. Photo by: Gordon Robertson


These owls have a length of 43-61 in (17-24 cm) and a weight of 835 g (22.4 oz). Their wings could range 50-60 in (127-152 cm).


Invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals are all eaten by Strix varia. Barred owls have been seen wading and fishing from perches. Strix varia only hunts whole-bodied prey. Perches are hunted. Barred owls swoop down on their prey and snag it. It stores food in tree branches and nests.


This species prefers coniferous woods and wooded wetlands. Breeding cavities and dense foliage for day roosting. Barren owl populations rely on old-growth woods for their large tree cavities. They readily take second-growth tree cavities in the Pacific Northwest.


Hunters Strix varia has been sighted during the day. After mating, barred owls are solitary until the young leave the nest. During the breeding season, mated pairs’ home ranges often overlap. If disturbed, they will call nearby birds. Less food means more territoriality for barred owls. They stay put or do not migrate.

Strix varia Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Genus: Strix
  • Species: Strix varia

Other common names

The northern barred owl is often known as the striped owl or hoot owl is a big North American owl species.

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Barred owl in the USA

Throughout North America, Strix varia can be found in the southwestern United States and Canada, as well as Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Its distribution encompasses much of the eastern United States, including Florida and Texas, among other states. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, barred owls have been able to expand their range into western Canada and the United States, most likely as a result of human modification of landscapes in those areas.

The Barred owl can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Strix Varia – Barred Owl

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