BARRED OWL(Strix varia) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Barred Owl is a fairly large bird of prey with mottled grey-brown plumage. It has brown eyes, a facial disk that is lighter than the rest of the plumage and a yellow hooked bill. There are horizontal bars along the breast and vertical bars on the belly (hence the name). The legs and feet are covered in feathers. The toes are dark orange and the talons dark brown. Sexes are similar, but females are larger. It is approximately 55 cm (20 inches) long.
NAME: The name ‘Owl’ is an onomatopoeia for the bird’s call and comes from Cockney. The genus Latin name ‘Strix’ is from Greek mythology and refers to a bird that was sucking the blood of humans, and ‘varia’ stands for the ‘variegated’ plumage of this owl.
HABITAT: Prefers mature mixed forest with some wetland.
DIET: Main prey is the meadow vole, followed by other small mammals, birds, insects, reptiles and fish. This owl is active mainly at night.
NESTING:  The nest is usually located in a tree cavity. About three white eggs are laid, which are incubated by the female. She also feeds the chicks, while the male brings the food. The barred owl is protective of its nest and will attack perceived predators, including humans.
DISTRIBUTION: The barred owl is a North-American species. Its overall range covers the lower eastern half of Canada, and the eastern half of the USA. Barred owls do not migrate and do not move out of their territories generally. This species has been able to extend its range into western Canada and northwest USA, thanks to reforestation of parts of the Prairies.
ON PEI: The barred owl is a year-round resident on Prince Edward Island, and is considered as fairly common throughout all seasons.
CONSERVATION:  The barred owl has increased its range and now is estimated to number around 3 million individuals. It is not considered at risk, although it needs large trees for nesting. Because of its inroads into the territory of the smaller and related Northern Spotted Owl, it out-competes it. The latter is an endangered species native to the northwest USA. To compound the problem further, the barred owl also hybridizes with it.
NOTES: Owls have a silent flight. They regurgitate pellets of undigested parts of their prey. These pellets are good indicators of the bird’s diet.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Northern Spotted Owl, Great Horned Owl
REFERENCES: (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas) (Missouri Department of Conservation)

Barred Owl – Munns Road area, PEI – July 26, 2017 – © Wanda Bailey
Barred owl, PEI, by Wanda Bailey
Barred Owl – Hay River, PEI – Dec. 18, 2014 – © Sandra Meade
Barred owl, PEI, by Sandra Meade
Barred Owl – Grant Road area, PEI – Aug. 18, 2013 – © Judy MacDonald
Barred owl, PEI, Judy MacDonald