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Spotted Owl Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Spotted Owls are large owls with rounded heads that lack ear tufts. The wings are broad and rounded; the tail is short.

    Relative Size

    Slightly larger than an American Crow; slightly smaller than a Barred Owl.

    Relative Sizebetween crow and goosebetween crow and goose

    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 18.5-18.9 in (47-48 cm)
      • Weight: 17.6-24.7 oz (500-700 g)
      • Wingspan: 39.8 in (101 cm)

Regional Differences

Spotted Owls are classified into three subspecies, each inhabiting a different geographic range and distinguished by slightly different size, coloration, and markings. The Northern Spotted Owl—the subspecies at the center of debate over old-growth logging—inhabits forests from British Columbia to northern California. The California subspecies lives only in that state, while the Mexican Spotted Owl can be found from Utah and Colorado southward into Mexico. The more southerly the subspecies, the paler its plumage and the larger its white spots.