Barred Owl

Heather Haderly

Castle Rock, United States

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Artist's Description

This Barred Owl has taken up residence at my Grandmother’s in Castle Rock, WA. He/She is one of a pair as Grandma often hears hooting from two directions. They appear not to be terribly shy and watch you calmly as you watch them (and snap pictures like crazy).

The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a large typical owl. It goes by many other names, including eight hooter, rain owl, wood owl, and striped owl, but is probably known best as the hoot owl.
The adult is 44 cm long with a 112 cm wingspan. It has a pale face with dark rings around the eyes, a yellow beak and brown eyes. It is the only typical owl of the eastern United States which has brown eyes; all others have yellow eyes. The head is round and lacks ear tufts, a distinction from the Short-eared Owl. The upper parts are mottled gray-brown. The underparts are light with markings; the chest is barred horizontally while the belly is streaked lengthwise. The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons.
Breeding habitat is dense woods across Canada, the eastern United States and south to Central America; 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.
Barred Owls may be partly responsible for the recent decline of the Northern Spotted Owl, native to Washington, Oregon, and California. Since the 1960s, Barred Owls have been expanding their range westward from the eastern US, perhaps because man made changes have created new suitable habitat in the west.4 When Spotted Owls and Barred Owls share the same environment, the latter are generally more aggressive and out-compete the former, leading to decreased populations of the native owls.5 They have also been known to interbreed, with the hybrid names “Sparred Owl” or “Botted Owl”.

On 5 April 2007, White House officials announced a proposal from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that shooting Barred Owls would aid in effects caused on the Spotted Owl.6 The proposal called for 18 sites to be constructed in Spotted Owl territory, where 12–32 owls could be shot at each site.6 Environmentalists fear that increasing blame in Barred Owls as population-decreasing proponents in Spotted Owls, will mean less attention will be paid to territorial protection, and logging will be reinstated in protected Spotted Owl areas.

104 views – 2-21-10

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Artwork Comments

  • pat gamwell
  • Heather Haderly
  • Geoff Beck
  • Heather Haderly
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