Spectacled Owl


The Barn Owl
Eur. Eagle Owl
Gr. Horned Owl
Spectacled Owl
Gr. Gray Owl
Flammulated Owl
Mex. Spotted Owl
Moun. Pygmy Owl

Hit the picture to enlarge

Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata)

Mexico, Central America, and the Northern two-thirds of South America. Found in humid tropical rainforest, second growth woodland, savanna, and mangrove habitats. They prefer to live near water.
Length: 43 - 46 cm (17 - 18 in.)
Wingspan: 2.5 - 3 ft.
Weight: Male 450 - 680 g ; Female 680 - 980 g
Small mammals, insects, caterpillars, frogs, and crabs. Occasionally skunks, opossums, bats, and birds up to the size of Jays.
They have a big, round head and no ear tufts. The mature adult is a striking blackish brown color above and yellow cream below. They have a yellow cream belly, a white patch on the front of the neck, and a dark brown belt across the breast. There are white crescents on a black face and bright yellow eyes. The white "spectacles" around their eyes give them their name. The immature bird has the adult markings in reverse. It has white plumage with a black mask and brown wings, and it may take several years from hatching to attain full adult plumage.
Natural History
Because of their elusive behavior, little is known. We do know that they live in tropical rainforests as well as drier woods with scattered trees. They are usually nocturnal, but can be active on dull days. Their call has been compared to the prolonged, rapid tapping of a woodpecker with each successive note being lower and weaker, and the rythm quicker as the series progresses. They are known in Brazil as 'knocking owls". The female also has a hawk-like scream, which has been compared to a steam whistle. When hunting, they use a branch to perch on and scan the surrounding area. When prey is located, they drop with a swift pounce. Insects are taken from foliage. In Costa Rica, eggs are laid in the dry season, or at the start of the wet season. Nests are made in tree hollows. They lay 1 - 2 eggs in a clutch but, usually, only 1 survives. The chicks leave the nest for surrounding branches well before they can fly, but depend on their parents for up to one year. The young may take up to five years to attain their full adult plumage.


Last update: 28-09-2006