Barred Owl

Barred Owls are a widespread owl species that can be found in Maine’s forests, swamps, and riparian areas. They are territorial throughout the year and are vocal year-round. During February and March, calls (“Who- cooks-for-you? Who-cooks-for-you-all?”) are most frequent with birds being more vocal between 6 and 8 PM. During the breeding period, males usually roost and hoot in the vicinity of the nest. Females may respond or the pair may sing strange sounding duets referred to as caterwauling. Barred Owls are cavity nesters and will nest in naturally formed nest cavities or in man- made nest boxes. Females are responsible for all incubating and brooding while males are responsible for hunting and providing food. After hatching, young remain in the nest until around 5 weeks old before moving to a nearby branch. They remain nearby under the care of their parents until Fall.  

Safe Dates: March 15th to July 25th (applicable for only the S or H codes).


Breeding Evidence: For observations of a silent Barred Owl within the safe dates and in appropriate breeding habitat, use code H. If you hear one performing “who-cooks-for-you?” calls within the safe dates, use code S. The simplest way to upgrade this to a “Probable Breeder” is to listen again at the same location 7 or more days later to upgrade the code to S7. If you hear a pair in winter or spring singing a duet of alternating calls, use code P. For observations of recently fledged young perched near the nest site, use code FL. If there is evidence of young Barred Owls in the nesting cavity, use code NY, but note that we strongly discourage closely approaching or disturbing nesting birds.

Image courtesy of David S. Hall.

Audio courtesy of Martin St-Michel.

© 2019 Logan Parker

The Maine Nightjar Monitoring Project is a part of the Maine Natural History Observatory