School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

dropdown arrow downdropdown arrow upshow/hide menu

Ask A Biologist heading

Bird Details

Owls Owls

Spotted Owl

Strix occidentalis

Spotted Owl
copyright Oliver Niehuis
Length: 19 in. (48 cm)
A bird of dense, dark, old-growth or mixed mature and old-growth coniferous forests, the Spotted Owl is usually associated with Douglas-Fir, mature cottonwoods, alders, oaks, and sycamores, especially along steep-walled river valleys. They favor forests with an uneven canopy. The nest is made of sticks and can be in abandoned hawk nests, clumps of mistletoe, in large tree cavities, on broken tops of large trees, on large branches, or cavities in banks and rock faces, and the same nest is used by a pair year after year. Many pairs do not breed every year, and the density of prey is apparently important for triggering nesting. Spotted Owls roosting near the trunk on shaded branches during the day are often obvious and easy to approach. They hunt at night by sitting and waiting for a small animal to move under their perch and then swooping down onto the prey. Rarely they will catch a prey during the day. They feed mainly on flying squirrels and wood rats, but they have been recorded eating 30 mammal species and 23 bird species as well as snakes, and insects. There are even records of individual owls walking around campfires at night picking up scraps of food. The Spotted Owl may be the most famous of all endangered species in North America. Because of its dependence on large tracts of old-growth coniferous forests, management for this owl has caused tremendous turmoil in the forest harvesting industry, and as a result, this species of owl is one of the most studied in North America The four-digit banding code is SPOW.
spotted_owl.jpg

Male
copyright Oliver Niehuis

Fir forest
Fir forest

Oak-pine woodland
Oak-pine woodland

You are missing some Flash content that should appear here! Perhaps your browser cannot display it, or maybe it did not initialize correctly.

Male
Hooting (sound type)
Bird Call
Download sound

view small images | view large images | view zoomed images

CR_SPOW_1B_050704_S.jpg
Male
Hooting (sound type)
Bird Call

You are missing some Flash content that should appear here! Perhaps your browser cannot display it, or maybe it did not initialize correctly.

 

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.

dropdown arrow downdropdown arrow up  Learn More

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.