Mexican Spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida)
Where Listed: WHEREVER FOUND
Unlike most owls, Mexican spotted owls have dark eyes. They are an ashy-chestnut brown color with white and brown spots on their abdomen, back and head. Their brown tails are marked with thin white bands. They lack ear tufts. Young owls less than 5 months old have a downy appearance. Females are larger than males.
- States/US Territories in which the Mexican Spotted owl, Wherever found is known to or is believed to occur: Arizona , Colorado , New Mexico , Texas , Utah
- US Counties in which the Mexican Spotted owl, Wherever found is known to or is believed to occur: View All
- Countries in which the the Mexican Spotted owl, Wherever found is known to occur: Mexico
- Additional species information
|Status||Date Listed||Lead Region||Where Listed|
|1993-03-16||Southwest Region (Region 2)||Wherever found|
» Federal Register Documents
|Date||Title||Plan Action Status||Plan Status|
|2012-12-18||Final Recovery Plan for the Mexican Spotted Owl, First Revision (Strix occidentalis lucida)||View Implementation Progress||Final Revision 1|
|Date||Citation Page||Title||Document Type|
|2012-12-17||77 FR 74688 74689||Notice of document availability: Final Recovery Plan, First Revision; Mexican Spotted Owl||
|2011-06-24||76 FR 37141 37142||Notice of Availability for Comment: Draft Recovery Plan, First Revision; Mexican Spotted Owl||
|2013-02-06||78 FR 8576 8577||5-Year Status Reviews of Ocelot and Mexican Spotted Owl in the Southwest Region; Notice of reviews; request for information||
|2013-08-16||5-Year-Review for Mexican Spotted Owl - 2013|
» Critical Habitat
To learn more about critical habitat please see http://ecos.fws.gov/crithab
» Conservation Plans
|HCP Plan Summaries|
|SHA Plan Summaries|
|Paterson, Thomas W. and Caroline H. (Spur Ranch)|
» Life History
Spotted owls are residents of old-growth or mature forests that possess complex structural components (uneven aged stands, high canopy closure, multi-storied levels, high tree density). Canyons with riparian or conifer communities are also important components. In southern Arizona and New Mexico, the mixed conifer, Madrean pine-oak, Arizona cypress, encinal oak woodlands, and associated riparian forests provide habitat in the small mountain ranges (Sky Islands) distributed across the landscape. Owls are also found in canyon habitat dominated by vertical-walled rocky cliffs within complex watersheds, including tributary side canyons. Rock walls with caves, ledges, and other areas provide protected nest and roost sites. Canyon habitat may include small isolated patches or stringers of forested vegetation including stands of mixed-conifer, ponderosa pine, pine-oak, pinyon-juniper, and/or riparian vegetation in which owls regularly roost and forage. Owls are usually found in areas with some type of water source (i.e., perennial stream, creeks, and springs, ephemeral water, small pools from runoff, reservoir emissions). Even small sources of water such as small pools or puddles create humid conditions. Roosting and nesting habitats exhibit certain identifiable features, including large trees (those with a trunk diameter of 12 inches (in) (30.5 centimeters (cm)) or more (i.e., high tree basal area)), uneven aged tree stands, multi-storied canopy, a tree canopy creating shade over 40 percent or more of the ground (i.e., moderate to high canopy closure), and decadence in the form of downed logs and snags (standing dead trees). Canopy closure is typically greater than 40 percent. Owl foraging habitat includes a wide variety of forest conditions, canyon bottoms, cliff faces, tops of canyon rims, and riparian areas. Juvenile owls disperse into a variety of habitats ranging from high-elevation forests to pinyon-juniper woodlands and riparian areas surrounded by desert grasslands. Observations of long-distance dispersal by juveniles provide evidence that they use widely spaced islands of suitable habitat which are connected at lower elevations by pinyon-juniper and riparian forests. Critical habitat was finalized on August 31, 2004(69 FR 53182) in Arizona in Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Yavapai counties.
Owls feed on small mammals, particularly mice, voles, and woodrats. They will also take birds, bats, reptiles and arthropods. The Mexican spotted owl is a "perch and pounce" predator, using elevated perches to find prey items using sight and sound. They can take prey on the wing, particularly birds. Most hunting is at night, however, there are some reports of diurnal foraging.
Movement / Home Range
Mated pairs are territorial. The breeding season activity centers tend to be smaller than the non-breeding season activity centers, with considerable overlap between the two. Adults may or may not leave the territory during the winter. Most adults remain on the same territory year after year. Juveniles leave their natal territory in September, and while they are capable of moving long distances, many successfully establish themselves nearby. Some juveniles will travel through a variety of vegetation communities until they settle down. Distribution: The owl occupies a broad geographical area, but does not occur uniformly throughout its range. Instead, the owl occurs in disjunct localities that correspond to isolated mountain systems and canyons. The owl is frequently associated with mature mixed-conifer (Douglas-fir (Psuedotsuga menziesii), white fir (Abies concolor), limber pine (Pinus flexilis) or blue spruce (Picea pungens)), pine-oak (ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Gambel oak (Quercus gambellii)), and riparian forests (various species of broadleaved deciduous trees and shrubs). Typically found between 4,100 and 9,000 feet of elevation. Ninety-one percent of known owls existing in the United States between 1990 and 1993 occurred on land administered by the U.S. Forest Service, the primary administrator of lands supporting owls. Most owls have been found within the 11 National Forests of Arizona and New Mexico. It is unknown why Colorado and Utah support fewer owls.
Mated pairs of owls defend a breeding territory at least during the nesting season (March through August). Clutch size is small (generally 1 to 3 eggs), and eggs hatch in early May. A second clutch may be laid if the first fails. The females brood the young owlets almost constantly the first couple of weeks, then may be gone hunting for several hours a day. Owlets fledge at 4 to 5 weeks old (early to mid June), and leave the nest before they can fly, moving to the tree branches or the ground while still under parental care. Dispersal from the nest area usually occurs from mid-September to early October. Mexican spotted owls breed sporadically, and not all birds nest every year. Local conditions, particularly for the prey base, may govern nesting success.
Actions that open up or remove mature or old-growth forests (logging, wildfire, road or site construction that results in fragmentation of the forest) are detrimental to the local owl population. Human activity (hiking, shooting, off-road vehicle activity) in or near nesting, roosting, or foraging sites may result in abandonment of an area, and indirectly may affect habitat parameters from trampling, vegetation removal, or increased fire risk.
» Other Resources
NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.
ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.
FWS Digital Media Library -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library is a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video.