Title

A quantitative description of the vocalizations and vocal activity of the Barred Owl

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Publication Title

Condor

Volume

112

Issue

3

First Page

549

Last Page

560

DOI

10.1525/cond.2010.090163

Abstract

Barred Owls (Strix varia) are highly vocal and perform a diverse array of vocalizations. They are often monitored by acoustic surveys, yet Barred Owl vocalizations and vocal behavior are poorly described. We present a detailed analysis of Barred Owl vocal behavior with four goals: (1) to provide a quantitative description of Barred Owl vocalizations, including those given within duets, (2) to examine diel variation in vocal output for multiple vocalizations, (3) to explore the use of vocalizations inside and outside of duets, and (4) to identify sex-specific vocal characteristics and discuss their utility in identifying an owl's sex. Adult Barred Owls produced 13 distinct vocalizations that could be assigned to call type on the basis of fine-structural measurements. Barred Owls vocalized throughout the day but were more vocal at night with peaks in vocal activity from 18:00 to 20:00 and 02:00 to 05:00. Most calls were produced throughout the night, but some (e.g., alarm calls) were more common at particular times. Two types of vocalizations were produced only within duets, and one type of vocalization occurred primarily outside duets. Calls of females were higher in pitch with longer terminal notes and more vibrato than those of males. Using these differences, cluster analysis assigned owls to two groups corresponding to predicted sex with 91% accuracy. We discuss possible functions of certain vocalizations and how understanding the vocal repertoire and sex differences of this species' acoustic signals will benefit behavioral studies and monitoring, including Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) conservation. © The Cooper Ornithological Society 2010.

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