How to Attract Barred Owls (in 6 Simple Steps)

Are you trying to attract barred owls to your home?

With a bit of knowledge about their natural habitat and preferences, you can create an inviting environment that not only brings these majestic creatures to your yard but also helps them thrive.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to create a barred owl-friendly space
  • How to provide nesting sites and ample food sources
  • Why you need to offer protection from potential barred owl threats

Natural Habitat of Barred Owls

two barred owls sitting in a tree in a forest

Barred Owls are fascinating creatures that thrive in specific environments. Understanding their natural habitat is crucial if you want to attract these majestic birds to your property.

  • Wooded areas: These owls typically inhabit mature deciduous or mixed woods, where they can find ample shelter and a variety of prey. They are versatile in their choice of locations, which can include wooded areas near canyon streams with large trees or forested ponds. Additionally, they can be found in habitats with closed canopies that obscure the sky while maintaining an open forest floor beneath.
  • Urban environments: Barred Owls are known to venture into urban environments as well. They have been observed in wooded parks within towns and cities, especially along river edges that offer additional forest cover. However, their primary preference remains forested areas with large trees and an abundance of food sources.
  • Barred Owl range: The Barred Owl’s habitat is diverse, ranging from the Pacific Northwest coniferous forests to wooded areas throughout the eastern part of the United States. Barred owls are native to large parts of the United States, extending into Southern Canada.

Read Next: How to Attract Barn Owls

Food and Hunting Habits

What Do Barred Owls Eat?

  • Barred Owls are skillful hunters that primarily search for food during the night.
  • Their main diet consists of small rodents, including mice and voles, as well as other mammals such as squirrels, gophers, and rabbits.
  • In addition to mammals, they also prey on birds, reptiles, amphibians, and large insects. These nocturnal hunters are at the top of their game when it comes to finding food in the wild.

Hunting for Prey

  • Their hunting strategy is effective, as they silently glide through the air, thanks to their feather adaptations, and use their incredible hearing to locate prey.
  • They can often be found hunting near a water source, such as a river or swamp, as their prey like to congregate in these areas.
  • In grassy fields, Barred Owls are known to catch small rodents hiding beneath the vegetation.
  • Barred Owls face competition from other species of owls and raptors, like the Great Horned Owl, Screech Owls, and hawks. These predators all share overlapping territories and rely on similar food sources.
  • The competition is considerable, so each owl species must be strategic in exploiting its hunting advantages to secure food for survival.

Barred Owl Diet Adaptability

  • During the winter months, Barred Owls may adapt their diet to whatever prey is available in their environment. They may consume more birds, snakes, or other prey, depending on the circumstances.
  • In aquatic environments, they may also dine on crayfish, crabs, and fish. It is important to note that they do not eat birdseed or scavenge from bird feeders like smaller birds do.
  • Regardless of their surroundings, these owls are expert hunters in the pursuit of nourishment and are a vital part of their ecosystems.

How to Attract Barred Owls: 6 Steps to Success

adult barred owl and two owlets in a tree nest

Making your yard a suitable habitat for these marvelous birds is an achievable goal.

If you want to attract barred owls to your backyard, the key is to provide them with food, water, shelter, and nesting sites.

1. Provide a Mix of Deciduous and Evergreen Trees

Start by setting up a suitable sanctuary; ensure that your yard has plenty of trees for the owls to roost and perch. Mature forests with a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees are an ideal environment for these owl species 1.

Try to leave some dead trees and branches standing, as they make perfect perching spots for owls to scout hunting grounds.

2. Set Up Owl Nesting Boxes

A healthy barred owl habitat should include nesting boxes for roosting and raising their young. Installing a nest box specific to barred owls encourages these majestic birds to breed in your backyard.

Remember to install the nest box well before the breeding season, and attach a guard to protect the eggs and young from predators like raccoons.

Another tip is to place owl nest boxes somewhere quiet, removed from human activity and general hustle and bustle.

3. Plant Native Flora

Barred owls mainly hunt small mammals, birds, and amphibians. Creating a backyard ecosystem that is rich with prey will significantly increase your chances of attracting them.

You can achieve this by planting native flora and minimizing the use of pesticides to encourage a thriving environment for both prey and predator species.

4. Provide Clean Water

Water is vital for all living beings, including barred owls!

Set up bird baths and ensure they are regularly filled with clean water. Not only will birdbaths provide owls with a place to drink, but they will also offer bathing opportunities for these magnificent birds.

You may additionally want to add a feature like a small water fountain to create a gentle flow, making the environment even more inviting for barred owls.

5. Watch Your Pets

white dog sitting in a garden

Minimizing the presence of pets, particularly outdoor cats and dogs, is crucial. Barred owls can be territorial, and the presence of pets in your backyard can deter them.

Therefore, it is wise to limit your pets’ outdoor activities or supervise them while they are outside to avoid scaring away your feathery guests.

6. Avoid Artificial Lights

Another make-or-break aspect is to avoid using artificial lighting in your backyard. Owls are nocturnal hunters, and bright lights can disturb their natural behavior, making your yard less appealing.

Opt for low-intensity, motion-activated lighting that only turns on when necessary, ensuring both the safety of your property and the comfort of barred owls.

If you implement these simple steps, you will be well on your way to making your backyard a haven for barred owls, promoting the prosperity of their species and enhancing your local ecosystem.

Protecting Barred Owls from Threats

Barred owls are beautiful, feathery friends you might want to attract to your backyard. To create a safe environment for these majestic birds, you must protect them from various threats.

  • Providing shelter: One key step is providing adequate shelter. Offer a sanctuary for your backyard owls by setting up nesting boxes with wood shavings to make them comfortable and safe for the birds.
  • Offer brush piles: It’s also important to create a natural habitat for your barred owls to thrive. If your backyard has a brush pile, this can serve as a valuable hideout for these birds. Brush piles offer safety from predators and the elements, giving the barred owls a place to rest and take refuge. Keep in mind, your backyard should have trees with thick branches for the owls to comfortably roost.
  • Safeguarding from other animals: Guarding your backyard from potential owl threats may seem unnecessary, but this would be an oversight. As mentioned before, one common threat is household pets, especially cats and dogs. Limit the presence of pets outdoors, especially during the owl’s hunting hours or when they are nesting, to reduce disturbances and improve the chances of attracting barred owls to your backyard.
  • Limit pesticides: Another hazard to be mindful of is the use of pesticides. Barred owls feed mainly on small mammals and insects, and the presence of pesticides can harm them directly or indirectly. Avoid using harmful chemicals in your backyard, and opt for natural pest control methods instead. This will not only keep your feathery friends safe but also maintain a healthy environment for other wildlife.

Nest Box Installation and Maintenance

owl nesting box hanging from a tree in the woods

Attracting barred owls to your backyard can be achieved by providing suitable nesting conditions. Among these conditions, the installation of a properly maintained nesting box can make a significant impact.

Nesting Box Dimensions

  • When constructing a nesting box for barred owls, ensure adequate dimensions are provided.
  • This includes a spacious entrance hole to accommodate the owl’s large size, as well as a comfortable interior.
  • A horizontal perch can also be installed near the entrance, which will be useful during courtship.

Correct Placement

  • Proper placement of the nesting box is key. It’s best to attach it to a live tree, post, or pole at a height of about 12 to 15 feet. This allows for a clear flight path and deters potential predators such as small dogs, cats, or invasive species like European starlings from accessing the owl nest.
  • Installing the box in a location near a water source can help as well, as barred owls require water for drinking and occasional bathing.
  • Bird baths may work as an alternative if a natural water source is not available.

Cleaning and Damage Control

  • Along with proper installation, maintaining the nesting box is crucial.
  • Regular checks should be done to ensure that no damage has occurred and that invasive species have not taken over the living space.
  • Cleaning the box on a yearly basis can also keep the space inviting to barred owls.

With the right nesting box installation and maintenance, as well as proper food and water availability, you can create an ideal environment for barred owls to call your backyard their home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best location for an owl nesting box?

To increase the chances of attracting barred owls, it’s important to place their nesting box in a mature forest with large trees and minimal noise.

A wooded area that remains dark at night is ideal, making sure there is minimal disturbance from people and machinery during the day1.

What types of food sources do barred owls prefer?

Barred owls are birds of prey, which means they primarily eat meat and prefer freshly killed meals.

Their diet mainly consists of small mammals, birds, and amphibians. They tend to hunt for animals such as mice, squirrels, and voles2.

What are ideal nesting box dimensions for barred owls?

When installing a barred owl nesting box, the recommended dimensions are 24 inches in height, 12 inches in width, and 12 inches in depth. The entrance hole should be approximately 6 inches in diameter3. It is important to mount the box well before the breeding season and attach a guard to protect the eggs and young.

How can owl calls be used to attract them?

Using recorded barred owl calls is controversial in attracting these owls to your area. When you mimick or play back their distinctive hooting calls, you may provoke a response from owls in the vicinity. However, you may also throw them off or accidentally suggest to them that they’re in another owl’s territory and should stay away.

What time of day do barred owls hunt?

Barred owls are primarily nocturnal hunters, meaning that their most active hunting hours occur during twilight and nighttime. They may also be seen hunting during the day if food is scarce, especially during the breeding season5.

What features should a barred owl nesting box have?

Make sure the nest box is made from sturdy, weather-resistant materials, and is properly ventilated. Placing a guard around the entrance hole can help protect eggs and young barred owls from predators. Pay attention to properly mount the box on a tree, ensuring it remains stable and secure6.


  1. 2

Learn the Hoot of a Barred Owl

Leave a Comment