Amaze-wing Facts About The Northern Spotted Owl For Kids

Northern spotted owl facts are both interesting and informative.

The northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) is one of the three sub-species of the spotted owls. Spotted owls belong to the true owl species. They are nocturnal birds known for their plumage. At present, all of its subspecies are threatened due to habitat loss. The northern spotted owls are medium-sized with beady eyes. They do not have ear tufts. Spotted with white feathers against the overall brown plumage, they can easily camouflage amongst tree bark.

It is usually found in old-growth forests. This is a highly critical habitat as it is threatened by deforestation. The old-growth forests are highly valued by the logging industry for commercial purposes. This makes the conservation of the owl habitat difficult. While it is a non-migratory bird, they are known to flee to new places under unsuitable conditions.

Read on to know more about spotted owl's forest habitat, conservation strategies (Northwest Forest Plan), and a range of other characteristics.  

If you enjoyed reading northern spotted owl facts, do check out the house finch and the barn owl.

Northern Spotted Owl

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Bushy tailed woodrats, squirrels, bats, mice, red tree voles, insects

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

2 eggs

How much do they weigh?

1-1.5 lb

How long are they?

18 in ( 1.5 ft)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Medium-sized, dark brown feathers with white spots.

Skin Type

Dark brown feathers

What are their main threats?

Barred Owls and habitat loss

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Old-growth forests


North America, Mexico, Canada, Oregon, Washington.





Scientific Name

Strix occidentalis caurina





Northern Spotted Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Northern Spotted?

The northern spotted owl is a nocturnal bird.

What class of animal does a Northern Spotted Owl belong to?

They belong to the class Aves.

How many Northern Spotted Owls are there in the world?

While the exact number is not available, they can be found in the US, Mexico, and Canada. The population of medium-sized dark brown owls has been decreasing over the years in their critical habitat and is categorized as Threatened under the IUCN Red List.

Where does a Northern Spotted Owl live?

These birds can be found across North America, particularly in Mexico, Canada, northern California, Oregon, Washinton, and British Columbia.

What is a Northern Spotted Owl's habitat?

The northern spotted owl's habitat is limited to terrestrial forest biomes. These dense forests provide a canopy aiding its protection. Spotted owls are typically adapted to life in old-growth forests, especially Douglas Fir forests.

Who do Northern Spotted Owls live with?

Northern spotted owls live in mating or nesting pair. The owl habitat is divided into small territories. The northern spotted owl range for each pair expands for about a 15 mile radius.

How long does a Northern Spotted Owl live?

The lifespan of the California spotted owl is typically 10 - 12 years and as much as 18 years in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

This subspecies of spotted owls are monogamous in nature. They nest in pairs when they reach the age of two or three years. Like most of the owl species, spotted owls choose their nest sites in the thick of the old-growth forest range, usually on top of the canopy, or tree cavities. Both sexes typically mate in February - March. The females lay around three eggs that are white to light gray. The incubation period is in the range of 27 -30 days and is done by females. During this period and after hatching, males bring the food for the females and subsequently the owlets. These pairs do not nest every year. They also at times cross breed with barred owls as well.

After the owlets are born, these birds are taken care of by their parents, both male and female. They leave the nest by September but still stay dependent on their parents for food.

What is their conservation status?

The northern spotted owl was listed as Threatened in the Endangered Species Act in its range of habitat from northern California and Washington by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in 1990.

According to the IUCN Red List, the northern spotted owl is categorized as Near Threatened.

Their population in Canada has decreased from about 500 adult owls to around 15 in the past 50 years. The loss of the northern spotted owl population has been caused due to major habitat loss and, in current times, the existence of the barred owl as a breeding bird.

Northern Spotted Owl Fun Facts

What do Northern Spotted Owls look like?

The northern spotted owl is threatened and requires conservation.

These northern spotted owls are one of the three subspecies of spotted owls. It is a dark brown owl spotted with white specks across its body. It has brown eyes which are covered by dark facial disks. These spotted owls are approximately 1.5 ft long, having a wingspan up to 4 ft. Female northern spotted owls are usually bigger than males.

How cute are they?

With their big beady eyes surrounded by prominent facial disks and dark brown feathers, they do look pretty cute.

How do they communicate?

Northern spotted owls have various kinds of barking, whistling, and hooting calls. The male and female spotted owls use their signal call to mark and defend their territory. The northern spotted owl call has been described as a calm four-note hoot. The same call is used by males who are bringing food for their mates. A hollow whistling call is also given by mated pairs to let the other know about their location. Their hoots are of deep tone, and the females have a slightly higher pitch than the males.

How big is a Northern Spotted Owl?

The northern spotted owl size is relatively smaller than a barred owl. As compared to house sparrows, northern spotted owls are three times larger than them.

How fast can a Northern Spotted Owl fly?

It has an impressive wingspan of 40 in (101 cm). They can be seen gliding across their forest habitat with a few fast flaps to gain speed. They catch their prey quite deftly. They tend not to fly above the tree canopy.

How much does a Northern Spotted Owl weigh?

On average, this species of owls weigh approximately 17.6-24.7 oz (500-700 g). The female weighs slightly heavier than the male of this species.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Males and females of this species do not have separate names, both of them share the same common name and scientific name.

What would you call a baby Northern Spotted Owl?

Baby northern spotted owls are called owlets.

What do they eat?

They mostly prey on small mammals like woodrats, squirrels, and mice. They also treat themselves with voles and snowshoe hares. As these spotted owls are nocturnal in nature, they hide and wait in their old-growth forests and pounce on their prey whenever spotted.

Are they dangerous?

Even though they are skilled predators, northern spotted owls are not dangerous to humans. They keep the ecological balance in check by controlling their prey population. If their nesting area is interrupted, they don’t make any active defensive movements.

Would they make a good pet?

One requires a license and proper training to pet an owl, and that too only for breeding and educational purposes. In other cases, they wouldn't be considered a good pet.

Did you know...

The northern spotted owl acts as an indicator - if they are found in their critical habitat, it means that the ecosystem of that particular place is balanced.

While most of the owl species have yellow or orange-colored eyes, the spotted owls have darker-hued irises, which gives them a majestic look.

For the identification battle of northern spotted owl vs barred owl, one needs to compare their size and look out for light streaks marring the barred owl's chest and belly area.

Why is the Northern Spotted Owl endangered?

The main reason for the population decline of northern spotted owls is the loss of their habitat. These spotted owl habitats were removed for timber harvesting. As the main habitat was snatched away from this species, they were forced to live in lesser dense forests which ultimately resulted in the decline of their number in the past 50 years.

One recent threat to their survival is the intrusion of barred owls in their residual habitat and they compete with the northern spotted owls for resources.

What is being done to save the Northern Spotted Owl?

One of the important steps taken towards the conservation of the dwindling owl populations is the Northwest Forest Plan. The northwest forest plan aims to cater to the habitat restoration of the species across 24.5 million acres of land. Under this plan, 26 different resource management plans have been subsumed. There are a few other plans that also target to save the old-growth habitat and avoid fragmentation of lands. This stops its competitor species, the barred owls, to annex its habitat range.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the secretary bird and the tawny eagle.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our realistic owl coloring pages.



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.