What Barred Owls Eat

Barred owls are a common owl, also known by the names of rain owl, wood owl, eight hooter, or the hoot owl. The reason behind its main name as the barred owl comes from the brown and white bars lined across its chest. They are a native bird to North America, and are often found in dense woods in Canada, eastern United States, and southern Mexico.

Just like most owls, night time is when they come out to feed. They often perch on a tree branch and make use of their excellent vision (they can see ten times better than humans, especially at night time) and hearing skills to help them find and catch suitable prey. Their diet remains a broad one, as these owls eat a large variety of prey often found within their habitat.

Like all owl species, barred owls are carnivores (meat-eaters), and usually live in areas near some source of water, as they sometimes take a fancy to fish. When they desire, they will go fishing using their sharp yellow talons (claws), whereby they swoop down to the water and clutch onto the fish of their choice. The types of fish they commonly eat include crayfish, fiddler crabs and other types of regular fish. It is said that the pink-like feathers on their belly come from a diet rich in crayfish.

Their food spectrum also includes a number of small mammals like rats, field mice, shrews, squirrels, baby rabbits, moles and weasels. Birds are sometimes eaten, and species include woodpeckers, doves, pigeons, quails, ducks and sometimes other owls (although that is less common).

Barred owls also eat a number of lizards, frogs, slugs and snakes.

Whenever they catch their prey, they always devour it straight away, there’s no saving or storing some for later. Also, whenever they eat their prey, they eat the whole animal, although the wings of birds are an exception. As they eat the whole animal, they swallow a lot of indigestible bones and fur, which they regurgitate later. More often than not, if there is a pile of furry-type balls located under a tree, it’s likely that it’s an owl perch tree or place where the owl usually eats its prey.

An interesting aspect of catching their prey is how two of their toes simultaneously go forward, and the other two go back, which aids them to get a good grip of their meal.

Barred owls eat a variety of animals like small mammals, insects, fish and birds found within their woodland habitats. They are opportunistic feeders, which means they will feed on anything they take a fancy to that moves.