Spotted Owl

Spotted Owl

Spotted Owls are medium-sized and dark brown with white spots. The further south the species, the paler their coloring and the larger their white spots become.

Its facial disk is quite defined with a dark border. It has white eyebrows and whiskers, dark eyes, and a hooked yellow bill. Its back and wings are dark-brown with white spots. Its belly is dark-brown with white horizontal lines or bars.  

There are three subspecies in North America, the Northern Spotted Owl, California Spotted Owl, and Mexican Spotted Owl. They differ slightly in how dark they are and the size of their spots.

  • Strix Occidentalis
  • Length:  16 – 19 in (41 – 48 cm)
  • Weight: 20.8 oz (589 g)
  • Wingspan: 40 in  (102 cm)


Spotted Owls do not migrate and are resident all year along the Pacific Coast and southwestern US states.

Habitat And Diet

You can find Spotted Owls in old, mature, dense forests with a lot of canopy cover. It prefers environments with old, large trees, which is why it’s considered a “Near Threatened” species due to habitat loss from timber logging.

Spotted owls mostly feed on small to medium-sized prey such as flying squirrels and dusky-footed woodrats. Other prey includes mice, red tree voles, snowshoe hares, gophers, and bats. They may also target small owls, birds, amphibians, and insects.

Spotted Owl Calls:

As they are a threatened species, the calls of Spotted Owls are restricted to help prevent their decline. However, they do make hoot, like many owls.


Nests of Spotted Owls are mostly in abandoned nests or cavities in trees. They make sure that a dense cover from the treetops protects the nest and the young. 

While the male selects the nesting site, the female makes it her own by adding a few feathers or materials to the nest. She will lay up to four eggs which incubate for about a month.

The male will tend to her, bringing her food while she incubates their young. 

Fun Fact:

The spotted owl looks similar to the barred owl, but the spotted owl has horizontal lines and the barred owl has vertical streaks.