Barred Owl/Strix Varia Essay

920 words - 4 pages

"The study of the Barred Owl (Strix varia): Appearance, Location, Habitat, Food Habits, Reproduction, and Management Plans"

The barred owl (Strix varia) is the most commonly found in southeastern Ohio, but is range across North America is vast. Strix varia is a large, round-headed woodland owl with a grey-white facial disc. Its plumage is grey-brown with white spots on the back, white streaks on the belly, and distinct white bars on their neck and breast, from which their name is derived. It has brown eyes, a yellow beak, a long tail, and it lacks ear tufts (Quimby, 2000). The barred owl is 40-63 cm in length and has a wingspan that ranges from 96-125 cm. This owl can weigh anywhere between 500-1050 grams with the female being the heavier of the two sexes (Terres, 1980). The barred owl is a very vocal species with an easily recognizable nine syllable call; "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?" (Freeman 2000). This species of owl is also known to have four subspecies which are: Strix varia varia, Strix varia georgica, Strix varia helveola, and Strix varia sartorii. The subspecies are divided into distinct geographic regions with in North America (Figure 1).

Barred owls tend to favor dense forests with large trees for nesting and allow for a relatively open under story. The owls use this under story to stalk and catch their prey from high above. The availability of perch sites and large trees for nesting have been found to be the most important factors in habitat selection. The Barred Owl can live in a variety of habitats including urban areas, swamps, oak savannas, marshes, and forests located next to fields that provide prey animals (Dark, Gutierrez, and Gordon, 1998).

Strix varia is a carnivore that feeds on a variety of animals, which include: small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even invertebrates. This predator is a nocturnal creature which allows it to stalk its prey under the cover of darkness. The barred owl hunts from atop a perch where it waits until it spots a suitable target. Once its prey has been selected, this magnificent hunter swoops down upon it and captures it between its sharp talons. The prey is then ingested whole and the inedible remains are regurgitated as pellets. Owl pellets are frequently used to analyze the bird's diet (Hamer, Hays, and Senger, 2001).

The barred owl is a monogamous species and the partner is selected for life. The breeding grounds are commonly found in the same location from year to year. Barred owls begin their mating calls in early February with breeding occurring between late February and mid-March (Terres, 1980). Males hoot and females give contact calls. As the nesting season approaches, males chase after females giving a variety of hooting and screeching calls (Freeman 2000). Nesting is usually...

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