California Spotted Owl: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

California spotted owl facts shed light on this bird!

Want your child to enhance their knowledge about animals and birds? You may introduce them to this avian!

The Strix occidentalis has three subspecies. The California spotted owl is one of them. The others are the Northern spotted owl and the Mexican spotted owl. These owl populations are native to North  America while the spotted owlet is found in the continent of Asia. This species is being greatly threatened by habitat loss. Particularly, logging of the old-growth forests is leading to habitat loss for this species. The bird depends considerably on the forest and canopy cover for roosting and breeding. Spotted owls are also known as brown-eyed owls. Innumerous efforts are being carried out by conservationists to protect this owl under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The owl is a nocturnal species. It is active in the day only for opportunistic hunting!

People often mistake the barred owl for the spotted owl!

If you like reading about this, you may also like reading about these burrowing owl facts and great grey owl facts.

California Spotted Owl

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Northern flying squirrels, woodrats, small mammals, deer mice, snowshoe hares

What do they eat?

Carnivorous diet

Average litter size?

2 eggs

How much do they weigh?

1.1-1.6 lb (520-760 g)

How long are they?

Males: 18 in (45.7 cm)

Females: 19 in (48.2 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Brown with white spots, large eyes, fluffy and large head, spots on the head

Skin Type


What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Near Threatened

Where you'll find them

Mountains, coniferous forests, old-growth forests, hardwood forests


Western North America





Scientific Name

Strix occidentalis occidentalis





California Spotted Owl Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a California spotted owl?

A California spotted owl is a bird belonging to the phylum Chordata, order Strigiformes, and species S.occidentalis.

What class of animal does a California spotted owl belong to?

California spotted owls belong to the class Aves, that is, they are birds.

How many California spotted owls are there in the world?

It is estimated that only about 15,000 mature individuals of this species are left in the wild.

Where does a California spotted owl live?

California spotted owl habitats include mountains, and forest habitats like coniferous forests, old-growth forests, and hardwood forests. The owl habitat must have sufficient canopy cover and woody debris.

What is a California spotted owl's habitat?

The spotted owl is found in the western part of North America. They are found in trees with dense forest canopy in the Sierra Nevada mountains and the trees of the Tehachapi Pass. South of the Sierra Nevada there is a gap, the owl is again seen in the South and Central parts of coastal California.

Who do California spotted owls live with?

Adult owls are solitary by nature. They interact only with their mates or their young ones.

How long does a California spotted owl live?

The owl is considered to be a bird with a long life. It can live above 10 years of age. In captivity, they may live up to 30 years of age!

How do they reproduce?

Mating occurs in the spring season. Males and females are usually monogamous. However, new mates are readily accepted if the old mate flies away. Males select the nesting area in the tree cavities or other areas protected from predators. They do not build nests. The female lays 1-4 eggs in one clutch. On average two eggs are laid. The incubation period is for 28-32 days. The nesting period is for 34-36 days. The eggs are pearl grey white or in color. The baby bird is born with its eyes closed. Young ones stay with their parents for 2-3 months.  The female stays in the nest going out on occasions, the male provides for her and the young ones.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), spotted owls are classified as Near Threatened. It is not yet endangered. However, the population of these owls is decreasing.

California Spotted Owl Fun Facts

What do California spotted owls look like?

The body of this owl is covered in brown feathers. There are white spots on the breast and head. The eyes are dark brown in color surrounded by facial disks. It is a medium-sized bird. The female bird is heavier than the male bird. The wingspan is about 43 in (109.2 cm) while the length of the tail is about 7.9-8.8 in (19.1-22.6 cm).

California spotted owls are wise and graceful.
*Please note that this is an image of a spotted owl, not a California spotted owl. If you have an image of a California spotted owl, please let us know at

How cute are they?

Owls are very cute!

How do they communicate?

The California spotted owl call is a four-note hoot of 'hup, hoo-hoo, hooo'. The middle notes stick together. California spotted owl sounds include the 'nest call', the 'co-wheeeep calls', the 'series -location calls', and the bark series. The calls are used to locate the birds amongst the trees at night.

How big is a California spotted owl?

The female has a length of 19 in (48.2 cm) with a 43 in (109.2 cm) wingspan while the male is 18 in (45.7 cm) with a 42 in (106.8 cm) wingspan. It is not as big as the barred owls.

How fast can a California spotted owl fly?

The owl can fly at medium speeds. They make great use of their wings!

How much does a California spotted owl weigh?

The weight of California spotted owls is 1.1-1.6 lb (520-760 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The female owl is sometimes referred to as the hen owl.

What would you call a baby California spotted owl?

A baby owl is called a fledgling or an owlet!

What do they eat?

Spotted owls are small birds of prey. They are carnivores. They feed on northern flying squirrels, woodrats, deer mice, snowshoe hares, and other small mammals.

Are they dangerous?

Owls may attack humans if they feel threatened. They are protective of their young ones and territories. However, great horned owls and barred owls are more dangerous than spotted owls.

Would they make a good pet?

These birds are best left in the wild.

Did you know...

A hybrid of spotted owls and barred owls is called a sparred owl!

These owls are hunted by the great horned owls and northern goshawks. A young owl is often attacked by a red hawk.

Spotted owls are also called the wood owls, the canyon owls, and the hoot owls.

Climate change, timber harvest, the building of roads and railways is affecting the subspecies and contributing to its steady decline.

Monogamous pairs of owls do not breed every year.

These owls are the only ones with dark eyes. Other owls have yellow or orangish ones.

The adult ones reach sexual maturity when they are about two years of age.

The northern spotted owl is found in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. The species is found only in the southwestern part of British Columbia.

Why are California spotted owls important to the ecosystem?

Spotted owls are deemed to be an indicator species. It means they reflect the health of the ecosystem in which they thrive. Also, these owls prey on mammals that are considered pests by humans, for instance, rodents and insects. Thus, they keep a check on the pest population in the areas where they thrive.

How to build a nest for a California spotted owl?

In order to build a nest for the owl, proper vegetation is required. Twigs, grass, and small branches of trees may be used. The nest should be at an elevated height.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these short-eared owl facts and barn owl facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable California spotted owl coloring pages.



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