Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis)
Spotted Owl

The Spotted Owl is a species found west of the Rocky Mountains. It is Canada's most endangered owl with only a few individuals remaining in the wild. Recent efforts to save the species from extirpation in Canada and ultimately extinction are in their infancy. The Spotted Owl Recovery Team has collected a few of the remaining individuals and are currently providing captive breeding habitats in British Columbia in an effort to re-establish a sustainable wild breeding population.

The demise of our wild Spotted Owl populations is mainly a result of over-harvesting in the old-growth forests that these birds inhabit. As tracts of forest are felled, Spotted Owls have fewer places to breed and even fewer corridors to travel in order to disperse, meet each other and ultimately form new bonds. In addition, the recent immigration of the closely related Barred Owl has caused secondary loss of breeding territories as Barred Owls are larger and more aggressive than their smaller cousins.

Spotted Owls are distinguished from Barred Owls by their smaller size, darker features and spotted (rather than barred) breasts and abdomens. Both species have dark brown eyes and yellowish beaks. The Spotted Owl's typical courtship vocalization is much more basic than the Barred Owl's "who cooks for you".

The Owl Foundation has only housed a few Spotted Owls since its inception. Unfortunately, at no one time did we have two birds capable of producing young (two of one sex or males so crippled they could not mount a female) and therefore we were never able to study their breeding habits or aid in reintroduction efforts. Our last Spotted Owl was a female who succumbed to West Nile virus in fall 2001. She had laid a single, unfertilized egg that spring.

Spotted Owl
Barred Owl


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Owl vocalizations recorded by Kara Kristjanson.
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