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Spotted Owl
A Reference for North and Central American Owls

 The Spotted Owl is usually sedentary and occupies only one territory most of its life. Its sedentary nature, narrow habitat requirements and vocal habits make it very vulnerable to people. Here you will find video, photos, recordings and a brief field notes section to help identify and enjoy this beautiful owl. A more in depth write up and range map can be found in its natural history page (the Biology link). To jump immediately to any of these sections use the Page Jump Links below.

Page Jump Links:
Photo Gallery
Additional photos
Audio Recordings
Field Notes
Biology

Streaming Real Video Clips

"California" Spotted Owl
California Sierras
September 2001

 

PHOTO GALLERY
Click on the thumbnail to bring up each of the Owl photos.

Spotted Owl Photo

105K

Spotted Owl Photo

146K

Spotted Owl Photo

95K

California Spotted Owl
Yosemite
September 2000

Northern Spotted Owl 
Mill Valley, California
June 2009
Mexican Spotted Owl 
Sheelite Canyon, Arizona
August 2003

Spotted Owl Photo

165K

Spotted Owl Photo

91K

Spotted Owl Photo

165K
California Spotted Owl 
Yosemite
May 2009
Northern Spotted
Northern California Coast,
April 2004
Mexican Spotted Owl 
Miler Canyon, Arizona
May 2009

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS

Photo 1
83K

Photo 2
77K
Photo 3
114K
Photo 4
118K

Photo 5
118K

Photo 6
126K
Photo 7
143K
Photo 8
146K
Photo 9
209K

RECORDINGS
Click on the sonograms to bring up each of the recordings.

Sound File
57K
Placer County,
California
June 1999

Sound File
16K
California Sierras
near Yosemite
September 1999

This set starts with a "male's four note location call" with a "contact call" (sex?) in between the first two notes. The second "male's four note location call" is interrupted by a "female's four note location call".

The "agitated contact call" is given by both the male and the female and may be associated with territorial disputes. The sex of the owl is not separable with the "contact calls" but are mainly uttered by females.

FIELD NOTES
Spotted Owl - Strix occidentalis

 The Spotted Owl is similar in appearance only to the Barred Owl and is unlikely to be confused with any other owl. There are some distinct differences that make these two owls distinguishable though. The most visual distinction is that the Spotted Owl has short brown horizontal bars or spots on its underside where the Barred Owl has brown vertical streaks. Usually quite visible are the spots on the crown of the Spotted Owl. The Barred Owl also has a distinctive sharp break between its vertical chest and flank streaks and lateral throat barring.  The Spotted is a deeper brown color overall and slightly smaller (if they happen to be sitting next to each other this is quite noticeable!). Both owls do have bold calls in the forests but they are different. The Spotted's primary location call consists of 4 notes as compared to the Barred Owl's 9 note call (most noticeable though, might be tone and pattern since the two owls have many variations). The eyes of both owls are dark brown to black, the bills are horn to yellowish in color and they lack ear tufts. The sexes are alike in appearance although males and females can be distinguished by call. The length of the Spotted Owl is 17 1/2 " (about the same length as an American Crow).

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