Adult barred owls weigh a hefty 1.1 to 2.3 pounds with wingspans between approximately 3 to 4 feet. They have black and white stripes underneath their tail and wings, and earn their name from the contrast between the horizontal ‘bars’ on their chest and the vertical ‘streaks’ on their belly. They have round, flat pale faces are with bright yellow beaks and dark spectacles around dark brown eyes. Barred Owls are part of a group known as ‘true owls’, and are the only member of this group in eastern North America to have brown eyes rather than yellow eyes. They are also called ‘hoot owls’, and are very vocal birds emitting a distinctive ‘who cooks for you, who cooks for you all’ call.
Although their natural range is dense forests, barred owls often inhabit suburban neighbourhoods due to an abundance of prey. Unfortunately, owls in these areas often suffer from a shortage of nesting sites, mortality from vehicle collisions, and violent competition from the larger great-horned owl, which is their main predator and will eat eggs, young birds, and occasionally adults.