The spotted owl (Strix occidentalis) is a species of owl.
Three subspecies are recognized:
• Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina)
• Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida)
• California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis)
It is native to western North America.
The spotted owl is found from southwestern British Columbia south through the mountains of Washington, Oregon and California, the western slopes of Sierra Nevada and the southern Rockies. They are also located in Utah and central Colorado through Arizona‘s mountain ranges, New Mexico, extreme western Texas, and central Mexico.
Spotted Owls are found in several different habitats including humid, mixed coniferous forests, wooded ravines, and canyons. They can also be located in dark forest patches in the shade of deep, hanging canyon walls.
Spotted owls can be found at elevations of 20 to 2,600 meters (70 to 8,500 feet).
The lifespan of the spotted owl is about 10 years in the wild, and 15 to 20 years in captivity.
The spotted owl has an average length of 43 cm (17 in), wingspan of 114 cm (45 in), and weight of 600 g (1.3 lb). Females are generally larger than males.
These owls have dark brown plumage, a round head, and large dark eyes. The head and hind neck have white spots, along with white mottling on the breast and abdomen. Depending on how thick the plumage is, the amount of coloration and white spotting varies.
Spotted owls are nocturnal, sit-and-wait predators.
They often hunt from a perch and swoop or pounce on prey, or may take arboreal prey from tree boles and limbs.
Although diet varies with location, the majority consists of a few mammalian species. Species taken most often are northern flying squirrels (which may comprise more than 30% of total prey), and several other species of squirrel, woodrats (the most common prey overall), deer mice, pocket gophers, voles, snowshoe hares, some species of birds, bats, amphibians, reptiles, and insects.
Spotted owls do not build their own nests, instead making use of cavities found in trees, deadwood, and snags, and the sites of abandoned raptor or squirrel nests.
Spotted owl pairs are monogamous. The species does not normally breed every year. Normal clutch size is two eggs, but may reach four on rare occasions. The female sits on the eggs and cares for the young, while the male provides food for them.
The spotted owl is under pressure from habitat destruction throughout its range.
The worldwide IUCN Red List of Threatened Species status for the spotted owl species is “Near Threatened” with a decreasing population trend.
These birds play an important role in the food chain of old growth forests. The owls depend on a healthy diverse ecosystem for survival.
In many other cultures, owls represent wisdom and knowledge because their nocturnal vigilance is associated with that of the studious scholar or wise elder.
According to one Christian tradition, owls represent the wisdom of Christ, which appeared amid the darkness of the unconverted.
Some Native American cultures link owls with supernatural knowledge and divination.