Description: A medium to large sized owl lacking ear tufts. Male and female are identical in plumage. Head, neck, chest and most upper parts are buffy-white with dark brown barring. The lateral barring of the throat and upper chest sharply break between the vertical streaking of the lower breast and flanks (This is also a very good field mark to distinguish the Barred Owl from the very similar Spotted Owl). The dark brown back is spotted with white; facial disk is grayish white or pale brownish-gray with 4 to 5 concentric semicircular brown rings and the tail is crossed with 6 to 7 sharply defined bands of pale brown. The bill is greenish-yellow to dull buff-yellowish; iris is deep brown to brownish-black; legs and toes feathered buff-white. The talons are dark horn become black at tips. The Barred Owl’s highly distinctive advertisement call, described as “Who cooks for you; who cooks for you all?” or “You cook today; I cook tomorrow”, is the simplest method of finding and identifying this owl.
Young: At first the young are covered with pure white down. A second longer downy coat that is buffy at the base and white on the ends replaces this after a couple of weeks. The head neck and under parts are barred, at this point, with light brown; wing coverts and scapulars are barred also but with broader bars of deeper brown and white tipped feathers. By the first winter the plumage becomes more adult like.