Northern Spotted Owl
Learn more about the spotted owl and find out why it needs our help!
|Size:||18” in length, 42” average wingspan|
|Habitat:||Lower elevation coniferous forests, especially old-growth|
|Status:||State and federally threatened species
Once the poster child of old-growth forest protection, with an appearance on the cover of Time Magazine, the spotted owl is one of the best known species in Oregon. Medium in size, Strix occidentalis is dark brown with the white spots that give the owl its name. Dense, mature coniferous forests are this nocturnal, woodland owl’s habitat of choice; in Oregon they usually occupy Douglas-firs, grand firs, ponderosa pines and incense cedars. The flying squirrels, wood rats and red tree voles that share the forest with the spotted owl make up the bulk of its diet, with other small mammals, birds and reptiles filling in the rest. Spotted owls are known to be relatively tame birds, oftentimes completely unfazed by the presence of humans.
Why does it need our help?
Although the spotted owl has been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1990, its fight for ecological stability is ongoing. Persistent logging in western Oregon is steadily destroying the spotted owl’s habitat, causing the species’ numbers to decline. Although old-growth logging has slowed, due in part to President Clinton’s Northwest Forest Plan, the population continues to dwindle. Another cause for concern is the increased competition for habitat and prey the spotted owl faces from the barred owl. The more aggressive barred owl is not native to the Pacific Northwest—its original range was from Florida north to Maine, but by the 1990's barred owls started to take over spotted owl nest sites in Washington and Oregon. This increased competition, in conjunction with habitat loss due to logging, has resulted in some populations of spotted owls dropping to half of what they were in the 1980's, when the fight to save the bird began. Oregon Wild’s fight for designated Wilderness areas and roadless areas devoid of logging is necessary for this bird’s survival.
Did you know?
Learn about Oregon Wild's work to protect the spotted owl and the old-growth forests it depends on.
Spotted owls are one of the only owl species with dark colored eyes—most have yellow or orange eyes.
There are three subspecies of spotted owl—the Northern, California, and Mexican.
The spotted owl is also known as the Canyon Owl, Brown-Eyed Owl, Wood Owl, and Hoot Owl.
The spotted owl does not migrate during the winter.
Photo Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Sources: http://www.owlpages.com and http://www.seattleaudubon.org