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Last updated on April 25, 2014 at 1:22 EDT

Spotted Owl

The Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) is a species of owl resident to forests in western North America, where it nests in tree holes, old bird of prey nests, or rock crevices. Nests can be between 13 and 66 yards (12 to 60 meters) high, and usually contain two eggs (though some will contain as many as four). It is a strictly nocturnal owl, which feeds on small mammals and birds.

This owl has a total length of 17 inches (43 centimeters) and a weight of approximately 21 ounces (600 grams). Its eggs are a little over 2 inches (50 millimeters) long, and are white and smooth with a slightly grainy texture. The female sits on the eggs and cares for the young, while the male provides food for them.

The four sub-species are:

  • Strix occidentalis
  • Strix occidentalis caurina
  • Strix occidentalis occidentalis
  • and Strix occidentalis lucida (often referred to as the Mexican Spotted Owl)

This bird was the subject of considerable controversy during the late 1980s and early 1990s in the northwest United States with its inclusion to the Endangered Species Act. This designation caused millions of acres of old growth forest timber to be unharvestable by timber companies and state government agencies in Washington, Oregon, and extreme Northern California.

Spotted Owl