Spotted Owl

"The Spotted Owl" by Luis Carrasco (digital)

I wanted to communicate the overall peaceful nature of the Spotted Owl and help bring awareness to their falling numbers.
— Luis Carrasco


The wooded areas of northwestern California is where the most Northern Spotted Owls live. They can also be found in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. They prefer wooded canyons and old-growth forests; particularly Douglas-fir forests that typically take 150 to 200 years to mature.  These types of areas have high trees that serve as canopies for them to fly under. The spotted owl inhabits a relatively large home range, which it uses for nesting, foraging, and roosting. They are also non-migratory and usually spends an entire year on its territory.

Family Life

Spotted owls are mostly nocturnal, but sometimes will search for food during the day. Unlike most owls, they often do not defend their eggs and/or young from predators, but will instead watch from nearby as the nest is destroyed. Adult Spotted Owls are solitary except for interactions with their mates and young.


A Spotted Owl may live to be 17 years old.

Hunting Habits/Diet

Northern spotted owls are primarily nocturnal hunters and eat flying squirrels, wood rats, mice, birds and other small rodents. They hunt as early as sunset, using several different foraging sites in a single night, and stop just before sunrise. Spotted owls detect their prey by sight and sound, snatching them up with their talons. They are able to capture their prey in midair or by plucking it from branches, before breaking the animals' necks with their bills.


As a result of declining habitat, there are fewer than 2000 pairs of Northern spotted owls in the world. 

Fun Fact

Spotted owls don’t migrate for the winter.

Why are they Endangered?

The primary cause of decline in spotted owls is loss of habitat. Because spotted owls prefer old-growth forests, they have been heavily affected by logging. Urban and suburban expansion, water development, agricultural development, mining, and reservoir development also significantly impact northern spotted owl populations.


Near Threatened


A close up head profile portrait of a spotted eagle owl facing right and set to the left of the photograph