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Spotted Owl

Strix occidentalis

The Spotted Owl lives in old growth forests and nowhere else, which made it a poster child for environmentalists opposed to old growth logging. The mottled brown feathers make good camouflage when it is sleeping during the day. At night, it hunts Northern Flying Squirrels and Bushy-Tailed Woodrats, along with other small mammals and insects.

where it lives

Northern Spotted Owls needs large ranges of old growth forest to nest and forage in. ‘Northern’ indicates the Caurina subspecies that lives here in BC.

conservation concern

This owl is red listed, meaning its at high risk for extinction. This is mainly due to the loss of adequate old growth forest habitat which is the result of timber harvesting. Northern spotted owls were placed on the Endangered Species List in 1986 with only a few hundred remaining but their population continues to decline today. It’s estimated there are less than 5 of these owls left in BC. According to Canada’s Spotted Owl recovery strategy, the destruction of old growth habitat and fragmentation of remaining habitat prevents these owls from surviving and recovering.

  • The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Birds of Canada
  • Hoar
  • DeSmet
  • Campbell and Kennedy
  • BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer

What you can do

Adopt a Northern Spotted Owl through the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program (NSOBP).

The NSOBP is part of the non-profit BC Conservation Foundation and was founded in 2007 with the mission to restore the population of northern spotted owls across its range in British Columbia through captive breeding and release into protected habitat. The NSOBP is the only breeding program in the world for this species and has a long-term wild population target of 250 individuals. Through the use of artificial incubation, double clutching, and head-starting, the NSOBP hopes to produce 10-20 offspring each year. In 2022, the first releases saw three individuals released into the Fraser Canyon with collaboration between the NSOBP, Province of BC, and Spô’zêm First Nation. 

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