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What Do Barred Owls Eat? 5 Foods They Love!

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Barred owls are nocturnal hunters and have a wide variety of prey, including small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and other birds. They will also sometimes eat fish and crayfish. Barred owls have an incredible sense of hearing which helps them to locate their prey in the dark. They use a combination of vocalizations and silent flight to stalk their dinner. So, what do Barred owls eat? I will discuss it more later.

Barred owls are usually found in mature forests with large trees for roosting during the day. They prefer areas near streams or wetlands where plenty of food is available. During the breeding season, they create nest cavities in dead trees or old buildings, preferring heights up to 40 feet off the ground.

Barred owls communicate using calls and hoots. Their most common call is a loud, low-pitched “who-cooks-for-you” hoot that can carry up to a mile. They also have an array of other vocalizations depending on their mood or situation, such as screeches, trills, and whistles.

What Do Barred Owls Eat?

Barred owls are nocturnal birds of prey that live in woodlands across the United States and Canada. They primarily feed on small rodents, such as voles, mice, and shrews, which they can spot in the dark due to their heightened sense of hearing. They will also eat other small animals, such as squirrels, rabbits, and birds. They have taken larger prey when hunting in pairs or small groups. In addition to mammals, Barred owls will feed on reptiles, amphibians, fish, crayfish, and insects. Here are some of its favorite food:

1. Small Mammals (Voles, Mice, Shrews):

The Barred Owl is a unique predatory species that primarily feeds on small mammals, like voles, mice, and shrews. Barred Owls have an adapted digestive system that allows them to consume, digest and store small mammals over several days. This helps them during periods of food scarcity since they can spread meals throughout the week instead of looking for food daily.

what do barred owls eat

Barred Owls also have sharp nails that allow them to catch their prey quickly and efficiently, saving physical energy and time. Barred Owls are so effective at hunting small mammals that they often leave little evidence after consuming their prey.

2. Reptiles (Lizards And Snakes):

Barred Owls can also hunt and consume reptiles like lizards and snakes. They have very sharp talons that allow them to grip their prey tightly and efficiently dispatch it quickly. The Barred Owl is especially well-adapted for hunting lizards due to its excellent night vision and hearing capabilities. It can sometimes spot small moving prey from up to a mile away!

3. Insects (Caterpillars, Moths, Beetles): 

In addition to mammals and reptiles, Barred Owls also feed on insects like caterpillars, moths, beetles, etc., which they swallow whole or break into smaller pieces with their beaks before consuming. Barred Owls will often hunt by standing still and waiting for an insect to pass, which they swoop in and catch.

4. Fish and Crayfish:

Barred Owls also feed on fish and crayfish when the opportunity arises. They often creep along the edges of streams or rivers to find their prey, which they can spot due to their excellent night vision.

5. Amphibians (Frogs And Salamanders):

Barred owls are omnivorous beings that feed on a range of prey species. One type of food they enjoy is amphibians; Barred Owls tend to hunt a variety of frog, toad, and salamander species. There are several reasons for this dietary preference.

Barred Owls hunt mainly by listening for the rustling caused by moving animals, so small prey make ideal targets since their movement usually creates a louder noise than larger animals. Since amphibians spend much of their time in the water, these creatures may not have the chance to escape an owl’s grasp as quickly as their land-dwelling relatives.

Barred owls will also eat fruits and nuts when they are available. They may also scavenge for carrion or feed on garbage in urban areas. They supplement their diet with berries and other plant matter in the winter months. All-in-all, barred owls have a varied diet that helps them survive the coldest temperatures.

How Do Barred Owls Hunt For Their Food? 

These stealthy predators use various hunting techniques to acquire food, including ambush hunting, gliding, hovering, or actively searching using their sound-locating skills. During the day, they utilize an ambush technique to capture prey while sitting and waiting quietly on branches or other perches.

They typically fly low over grass and wetlands at night, swooping down to grab unsuspecting rodents or insects. When they spot potential prey, their wings spread out flat, which allows them to glide silently without flapping to not alert the animals below of their presence. Barred Owls will also hover in midair or land near an area with potential prey, then shake and move through some bushes nearby before swooping down.

Additionally, since these birds of prey have incredible hearing capabilities due to their ear tufts and facial discs being so well adapted for detecting sound, they can effectively locate animals hidden beneath vegetation cover and from a distant location.

What Predators Do Barred Owls Have?

Barred owls are no strangers to predators. As is common with many species of raptors, these majestic birds are often looked upon as a food source by other animals in their habitats. Common mammalian predators of barred owls include foxes, coyotes, and raccoons. These animals are usually the most successful hunters due to the barred owls typically being too slow or clumsy regarding evasion tactics.

Even predators such as martens have been known to prey on small owls roosting in trees or nests. When threatened by approaching predators, barred owls will often assume a quite extreme defensive posture which involves standing tall with wings wide open and hissing. The birds also defend themselves against predatory birds such as hawks, eagles, and other owl species.

Red-tailed hawks, in particular, are known to take advantage of their size and flying ability when chasing down barred owls; they have adapted incredibly sharp vision that can make identifying potential prey easier even from afar. It is always best for humans to be aware of any natural predators so we can take extra precautions when visiting forests or other areas where barred owls live.

How Do Barred Owls Help Our Ecosystem?

Barred owls are crucial to the health of our ecosystems! These beautiful birds prey on small rodents, such as mice and voles, keeping rodent populations in check. Not only do they help control these populations, but they also disperse seeds across their range by ingesting them. At the same time, they hunt and then excrete the undigested portions in different areas.

This dispersal helps ensure a healthy plant population and genetic diversity among them. Additionally, barred owls often scavenge for food, meaning they help clean up the environment by consuming carrion. They also provide indicators of healthy forests by providing important insight into their overall health.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, Barred Owls have a wide variety of food sources they target depending on the season and available resources. Small mammals like voles, mice, and shrews make up most of their diet, but they’ll also hunt reptiles, amphibians, insects, fish, and crayfish! This helps them survive through the seasons, as well as helps keep the ecosystem in balance. With all this information in mind, it’s clear why Barred Owls are such incredible animals and deserve our respect!

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