“Who cooks for you?” asks the Barred Owl

“Who cooks for you?” asks the Barred Owl

Barred owl

Barred Owl (Source: www.outdoor-michigan.com)

“Who cooks for you?”

This was the sound I heard last week when I was out in my backyard. (It was somewhat ironic since I was grilling at the time!)

The question was actually coming from a Barred Owl. Of course, I doubt there was really any interest in my cooking, that’s just what they sound like.

You can often hear their call this time of year when they begin the nesting season.  It sounds like this.


About Barred Owls

I’ve read that Barred Owl populations are increasing in suburban areas due to the abundance of rodents. We have an overgrown old Christmas tree farm behind our house, so maybe that’s an attraction for the owl I heard.  Here’s more information about Barred Owls:

  • Names: They go by many other names, including eight hooter, rain owl, wood owl, and striped owl, but is probably known best as the hoot owl.
  • Habitat: Dense woods across Canada, the eastern United States and south to Central America.
  • Nest: Often in a tree cavity; it may also take over an old nesting site used by a crow or squirrel. It is a permanent resident, but may wander after the nesting season.
  • Appearance: The adult is around 18 inches long with a 4-foot wingspan. It has a pale face with dark rings around the eyes, a yellow bill and dark eyes. There are brown bars on the chest. The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons.

You can see Barred Owls all year long in the state of Michigan and they’ve been known to live up to 10 years in the wild.


Owl nest box workshop

Hearing their call reminded me that about two years ago, the Land Conservancy held an Owl Nest Box Workshop where we built nest boxes designed for a smaller owl like a screech owl.

So I went to check mine to see if there was any evidence of activity. Evidently my box made a nice home for a squirrel, because that’s who was peeking out of the hole!

Has anyone from the workshop had an owl come to their nest box?

  • Chris Muldoon

    I live within the city limits of Grand Rapids, and I notice the activity of voles, field mice, shrews. and moles — generalists that can survive in urban areas. It’s interesting that Barred owls are becoming generalists, too. We, too, have seen and heard Barred owls in our neighborhood (there are some woodlands nearby). Ah, I remember, early in my birding days, when it was a real coup to find a Barred owl in the wild!

    March 13, 2015at8:13 pm
  • Kevin Nauta

    Put up an owl box last year, but no takers. Cleaned it out and have it ready for another go this year.

    March 16, 2015at10:22 pm
  • Ron Rosema

    I used to hear them all time last year, now 0, I live in southern Kent county hundred of wooded private, now 0, why?

    July 17, 2018at4:17 pm
  • Maxine McGregor

    Heard one 2 nites ago when the moon was full and orange. Wondered if it was a human impersonating an owl, but no. A neighbor said he heard it last nite. About 12:30am. We live by the Cuyahoga River.

    July 21, 2021at3:05 pm
  • Linda Zillich

    Had two stay in our back yard by our pond all last Spring through Fall. Have not seen them through Winter but we put up a nestbox hoping they will return this Spring.

    January 20, 2022at2:06 pm

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