California Spotted Owl

This medium-sized owl is recognizable by its brown head and body with white molted, oval-shaped spots all over the head and breast, accompanying a barred tail. It's large, dark-brown eyes stand out against a prominent facial disk and a white "X" between it eyes.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Strix occidentalis occidentalis
CLASSIFICATION
Bird
LIFE SPAN
5-20 Years
SIZE
15-19 ” | 1-1.3 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Priority Species
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Near Threatened
GAME STATUS
Non-Game
GAME TYPE
None
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

The California Spotted Owl’s range extends from Central California to Northern California, with some scattered populations in Southern california forests and canyons.

  • Alpine forests of the Sierras
  • Cliffs and Canyons
  • Pinyon juniper forests

Threats

  • Habitat Fragmentation
  • Habitat Loss
  • Hybridization with Barred Owls
  • Urban Development
  • Urban Expansion

Natural History

California Spotted Owls eat mostly small and medium sized rodents, with the other portion of their diet being made up of smaller owls, songbirds, amphibians, and some insects. Great Horned Owls and Bald Eagles are common predators of the spotted owl. Spotted Owls have varying nest types depending on their available habitat. They prefer nesting in hardwood tree cavities with thick canopy, but will also settle for holes in steep canyon walls. Nests may consist of one to four young that are altricial, and pairs may not mate every year. These owls will mate for life in monogamous breeding pairs. Young will rely on the parents for guidance and support for two to three months after leaving the nest. They are swift and solitary hunters.

Fun Facts

Spotted Owls will cache their dead prey in hallowed stumps or under logs to use for later. Owls can memorize the location by fixating on the spot for a few minutes before flying away. Spotted Owls may go several years without reproducing.