Mexican Spotted Owl

(Strix occidentalis lucida)

They can be found in forested mountains and canyons from southern Utah and Colorado to the mountains of Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas and even into the mountains of northern and central Mexico. In the United States, there are an estimated 2,106 Mexican spotted owls. Numbers in Mexico are also dangerously low. 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.

The Mexican spotted owl is threatened by the loss of old growth forests (its preferred habitat), starvation, and fire. They are also affected by:
  • barred owl encroachment
  • great horned owl predation
  • low reproductive success
  • low juvenile survival rates
They also face an uncertain future as climate change makes this region hotter and drier. Extended droughts also increase the likelihood of wildfires destroying their remaining forest habitat. A recovery plan for the species was issued 2 years ago that emphasizes habitat restoration and improved monitoring. The plan, which included input from the Forest Service, says that restoring Southwestern forests will achieve both the goals of improving habitats and reducing wildfire risk.