The barred owl (Strix varia), also known as northern barred owl or hoot owl, is a true owl native to eastern North America. Adults are large, and are brown to grey with barring on the chest. Barred owls have expanded their range to the west coast of the United States and Canada, where they are considered invasive. Mature forests are their preferred habitat, but they are also found in open woodland areas. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals, but they are also known to prey upon other small animals such as birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
American naturalist Benjamin Smith Barton described the barred owl in 1799.
The adult is 40–63 cm (16–25 in) long with a 96–125 cm (38–49 in) wingspan. Weight in this species is 500 to 1,050 g (1.10 to 2.31 lb). It has a pale face with dark rings around the eyes, a yellow beak and brown eyes. It is the only true owl of the eastern United States which has brown eyes; all others have yellow eyes. The upper parts are mottled gray-brown. The underparts are light with markings; the chest is barred horizontally while the belly is streaked vertically (hence its name "barred owl"). The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons. The head is round and lacks ear tufts.
Outside of the closely related spotted owl, this streaky, dark-eyed, chunky-looking owl is unlikely to be confused over most of the range. The spotted owl is similar in appearance, but is slightly smaller and has spots rather than streaks down the underside. The great horned owl is much larger, has ear tufts, and has yellow eyes.
The barred owl is distributed throughout most of the eastern United States, as well as much of southern Canada. Their range extends to British Columbia, and from there they have moved into the northwest United States. In the states of Washington, Oregon and California, barred owls have engulfed the range of the native northern spotted owl with which they now compete.