Bird Lore: Barred Owl

Photo by LeRoy VanHee
Photo by LeRoy VanHee

Even those of us who don’t pay much attention to birds will get excited at the sight of an owl. The Barred Owl, is a recent new-comer to Washington and to Edmonds. It was first recorded in the mountains of Pend Oreille County (northeast Washington) in 1965 and then reached Western Washington in 1973. It now inhabits forested areas through out the state as well as wood lots and urban parks such as Yost Park here in Edmonds. In October 2004, downtown Seattle pedestrians enjoyed watching one in a tree on the northeast corner of Fourth and Union.

Barred Owls were originally native to the eastern United States and then gradually expanded their range through southern Canada to the West Coast. These owls are aggressive hunters of small mammals, including our native flying squirrels, frogs, snakes, and various other birds. Barred Owls now completely overlap with Spotted Owl ranges in old-growth forests.

Barred Owls nest in large natural tree hollows, broken-off snags, or in old nests of hawks, crows, and squirrels. The female incubates the 2-3 eggs for 28-33 days while the male supplies her with food. The owlets take their first flights at about six weeks of age.

The barred owl can be spotted at Edmonds' Yost Park.
The barred owl can be spotted at Edmonds’ Yost Park.

Since they hunt both by night and day, Barred Owls are one of the easier owls to see. They have nested in Yost Park and can now be seen or heard there every year. If you are walking in Yost Park and hear a ruckus made by crows, you can follow their noise to the perched Barred Owl that they are harassing. The territorial call of a female Barred Owl is at this link.

Carol Riddell, author of our new “Bird Lore” feature, manages the bird education displays, on behalf of Pilchuck Audubon Society and Edmonds Parks & Recreation, at the Olympic Beach Visitor Station.

5 Replies to “Bird Lore: Barred Owl”

  1. What are the black birds that have an irridescent sheen to their coat that populate the parking lot @ Top Foods?


  2. You are probably describing male Brewer’s Blackbirds. (I say this without having seen them, but Brewer’s Blackbirds do frequent parking lots whereas Red-winged Blackbirds rarely do.) Look for the bright yellow eye on the male.


  3. The Barred Owl frequents my yard. Last Friday I arrived home after dark, stepped out of my car to be almost face to face with an owl sitting on our fountain. We just starred at each other. I proceeded into the house and she sat there for another 10 minutes. Awesome! We live just north of Yost Park.


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