Barred Owl at Lowry Park Zoo Today

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee

And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. (Isaiah 34:13 KJV)

Dan and I went over to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa again today. I was wanting to check out my Christmas present of a new camera. Enjoying learning to use it and retaking a lot of photos of birds to compare the old ones with the new ones on this camera. (It is still a point-and-shoot, but it has an improved “program mode.” Dan is our good photographer.)

But when we entered the zoo, we were met by one of the zookeepers holding a beautiful Barred Owl. We had not encountered this Owl in our previous trips. While sharing some of the photos, I thought you might like to learn a little about them.

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee

Facts from the U.S. Geological Service

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 17 inches Wingspan: 44 inches
  • Sexes similar
  • Rather large owl
  • Dark eyes and yellow bill
  • Back brown, mottled with pale spots and dark bars
  • Underparts pale with long, brown streaks
  • Chest pale with brown barring
  • Face pale with dark concentric rings surrounding eye

Similar species:

The Spotted Owl is most similar, but can be separated with attention to its barred, not streaked, underpart coloration. Short-eared Owl is similar in size, but is not barred on the chest nor is as heavily streaked below, does not share the concentric rings in the facial disks, has yellow eyes and a dark bill, and is found in quite different habitat. Great Gray Owl is superficially similar, but much larger, gray rather than brown below, and has differently patterned underparts.”

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee

“The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a large typical owl native to North America. It goes by many other names, including Eight HooterRain OwlWood Owl, and Striped Owl, but is probably best known as the Hoot Owl based on its call.

The usual call is a series of eight accented hoots ending in oo-aw, with a downward pitch at the end. The most common mnemonic device for remembering the call is “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.” It is noisy in most seasons. When agitated, this species will make a buzzy, rasping hiss. While calls are most common at night, the birds do call during the day as well.” (Wikipedia)

(From xeno-canto.org)

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZoo by Lee

Looking the other way. No, they cannot turn their heads all the way around. Notice also that this owl does not have ear tufts like some owls.

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee - Side of head

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee - Side of head

“Breeding habitats are dense woods across Canada, the eastern United States, and south to Mexico; in recent years it has spread to the western United States. Recent studies show suburban neighborhoods can be ideal habitat for barred owls. Using transmitters, scientists found that populations increased faster in the suburban settings than in old growth forest. The main danger to owls in suburban settings is from cars. The increased offspring offset the death rate due to impacts from cars and disease.”

The Barred Owl’s nest is often in a tree cavity, often ones created by pileated woodpeckers; it may also take over an old nesting site made previously by a red-shouldered hawk, cooper’s hawk, crow, or squirrel. It is a permanent resident, but may wander after the nesting season. If a nest site has proved suitable in the past they will often reuse it as the birds are non-migratory. In the United States, eggs are laid from early-January in southern Florida to mid-April in northern Maine, and consist of 2 to 4 eggs per clutch. Eggs are brooded by the female with hatching taking place approximately 4 weeks later. Young owls fledge four to five weeks after hatching. These owls have few predators, but young, unwary owls may be taken by cats. The most significant predator of Barred Owls is the Great Horned Owl. The Barred Owl has been known to live up to 10 years in the wild and 23 years in captivity.” (Wikipedia)

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee

Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee

“Owl” is mentioned 8 times in the King James Bible and “Owls” is mentioned 6 times. So that makes our friend here a “Bird of the Bible” and of course a “Bird of the World.” Owls are another of the Lord’s great creations.

It was a great birdwatching day at the Zoo. Cool, but the sun was bright and no clouds. I had some other great finds today, but will save them for later.

References to check out:

Birds of the Bible – Owls

Barred Owl – Lowry Park Zoo

Barred Owl – WhatBird.com

Barred Owl – Wikipedia

Birds of the World – Strigidae – Owls

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