Barred Owl

Barred Owl by Lee Ellis
© Lee Ellis
Strix varia
In Louisiana this species is by far the commonest and best-known member of the Owl family, for there is hardly any sizable wood in the state that does not support at least a pair of "hoot owls." Their comical calls can be expressed in southern lingo as "Who cooks for me? Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all-l-l-l?" Unlike the Horned Owl, which has a deep call of three or four syllables, the Barred Owl generally emits eight or more hoots. Occasionally the hoots are followed by a long drawn-out, weird scream that is enough to chill the bones of the uninitiated. I have heard this note frequently in the vicinity of Monroe but only rarely as far south as Baton Rouge. The Barred Owl lays its two to four eggs in a hollow in a tree, usually not later than February, and sometimes much earlier.
The general color of this species is dark brown with numerous bars on the upper breast and vertical streaks on the belly. It has no "ear" tufts, and its eyes are so dark that they actually appear to be black. It and the Barn Owl are the only large owls in Louisiana that do not have yellow eyes.
The diet is made up largely of rats and mice and only in rare circumstances includes poultry. Under no conditions, however, should any owl be shot, for all are protected by federal and state law. --George H. Lowery, Jr., 1974, Louisiana Birds

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