The barred owl is the only large, brown-streaked, dark-eyed owl in Missouri (the barn owl is the only other large eastern owl with dark eyes). The voice is ventroloquial (hard to locate), a varied series of hoots and screams. Although this owl is not often seen, its classic series of hoots is commonly heard and easily identifiable: “hoo hoo hoohoo, hoo hoo hoohooahh,” also described as “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?” This owl occasionally flies during daylight, especially when disturbed. Its flight is buoyant.
Strigidae (typical owls) in the order Strigiformes (owls)
Length: 21 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail); wingspan: 3½ to 4 feet.
Where To Find
Barred owls reside along forested streams, lakes, rivers, and swamps, particularly in deep woods with big timber. They forage at night and often even during the day. They lose habitat with the removal of large dead trees suitable for nesting. Other problems include stream pollution, collisions with cars, and predation and competition by great horned owls.
Prey includes small rodents, rabbits, frogs, snakes, insects, crayfish, and occasionally fish.
Common permanent resident.
Courtship and breeding take place from February through March in Missouri. Two or three white, round eggs are laid 20–40 feet above the ground in a tree cavity or occasionally in an abandoned hawk, crow, or squirrel nest. Incubation lasts 28 days, and the owlets are reared for 42 days.
Owls provide a service to people by hunting small mammals that can be troublesome to our interests, especially to farmers and gardeners. Owls also have a long, rich history in human legends and folklore.
As with many owls, barred owls are efficient predators of rodents and therefore do an important job of keeping their populations in check.
About Birds in Missouri
About 350 species of birds are likely to be seen in Missouri, though nearly 400 have been recorded within our borders. Most people know a bird when they see one — it has feathers, wings, and a bill. Birds are warm-blooded, and most species can fly. Many migrate hundreds or thousands of miles. Birds lay hard-shelled eggs (often in a nest), and the parents care for the young. Many communicate with songs and calls.