Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Steve Howe
Photo Copyright Steve Howe

The spotted owl, Strix occidentalis, occurs in western North America from southern British Columbia to central Mexico. It is found in the southern and eastern parts of Utah on the Colorado Plateau, where it is a rare permanent resident. The race of this species that occurs in Utah (the Mexican spotted owl) is Federally listed as threatened. The spotted owl occupies a variety of habitats in different parts of its range, including various forest types and steep rocky canyons, this last habitat being the primary habitat used in Utah. Spotted owls are nonmigratory.

Spotted owls feed mainly on rodents but also consume rabbits and some other vertebrates, including birds and reptiles, and insects.

Spotted owls do not build their own nests but utilize suitable naturally occurring sites and nests built by other animals. Nests are either in trees (especially those with broken tops), trunk cavities, or on cliffs. One to four eggs are brooded by the female alone and hatch after 28 to 32 days. Both parents care for the young, which fledge 34 to 36 days after hatching.

This species is very closely related to the barred owl, which is common in eastern North America.


  • Gutiérrez, R. J., A. B. Franklin, and W. S. Lahaye. 1995. Spotted owl. Birds of North America 179: 1–27.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.