Three Owlets LogoThree Owlets Logo 2Owls In The Park

Vancouver, British Columbia

SpeciesBarredHornedSaw-whetSnowyGreyScreechLong-EaredBarnPygmySpotted
Photo
Not
Available

Spotted Owl

Strix occidentalis

Weight: 550 - 760 g. (female). 520 - 700 g. (male)
Length: 41 - 48 cm.
Wingspan: 100 cm.

Status in Stanley Park:

No recorded observations.

This is the species that "should" be present in our area. Unfortunately human devastation of the coastal old-growth forests has driven it to extirpation. It is similar in size and hunting methods to the Barred Owl, but requires undisturbed habitat. We (humans) are simply replacing Spotted Owl habitat with that more suited to the Barred Owl.

In the 1990's the Spotted Owl made headlines in the western United States when it became listed under their Endangered Species Act. That required extensive protection of habitat. Various negotiations with the logging industry have since lessened the protection, but at least some protection has been afforded. In Canada we have no effective legislation for protecting such habitat. Some protection of breeding areas is in effect, but those areas are so isolated as to be ineffective in providing sufficient contact between the surviving individuals.

In the spring of 2009 I happened to meet a naturalist who had been involved in surveying the Canadian sites a decade earlier. At that time there were estimated to be only 22 pairs. He now estimates only 17 individuals.

There are also some issues with the surveying methods. These rely largely upon call-outs - playing the sound of owl calls and waiting for a response from a resident owl. Great care has to be taken in using this technique - one species my not respond to its own species call if another (threat) species is present. In this case the Spotted Owl may not respond if there are Barred Owls in the vicinity. Under normal circumstances this may not be an issue, but with so few Spotted Owls it could result in their territory not obtaining what limited protection Canadian regulations may provide.

There is also a general feeling that Canadian officials have "given up" on the Spotted Owl and are just waiting for confirmation of its extirpation from our country.

For more information and range, etc. I suggest a visit to Owling.com (Spotted Owl).