Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata)

Spectacled Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Pulsatrix perspicillata | [authority] Latham, 1790 | [UK] Spectacled Owl | [FR] Chouette a lunettes | [DE] Brillenkauz | [ES] Lechuzon de Anteojos | [NL] Briluil


Monotypic species


Spectacled owls, along with two other species, belong to the genus Pulsatrix, which is part of the family Strigidae or ?typical? owls. The owls in the genus Pulsatrix are large, have stout beaks, strong feet and dark faces outlined by light feathers. The range of the spectacled owl reaches from southern Mexico, south to Paraguay, southern Brazil and northern Argentina.

Physical charateristics

Spectacled Owls are dark brown with a whitish to yellow-ochre belly, a white patch on the front of the neck and a dark brown belt across the breast. White “spectacles” around their yellow eyes give them their name.
A juvenile has the adult markings in reverse – a white head with black mask, and may take several years from hatching to attain full adult plumage.

Listen to the sound of Spectacled Owl

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/STRIGIFORMES/Strigidae/sounds/Spectacled Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 76 cm wingspan max.: 91 cm
size min.: 43 cm size max.: 46 cm
incubation min.: 33 days incubation max.: 37 days
fledging min.: 40 days fledging max.: 37 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 2  


Latin America : South Mexico to Northeast Argentina


Occurs more frequently in dense tropical rainforest with mature, large trees, including forest edges. Also found in dry forest, treed savannah habitat, plantations and open areas with scattered trees.


In Costa Rica, eggs are laid in the dry season, or at the start of the wet season. Spectacled Owls nest in tree hollows and lay 1-2 eggs, which are incubated by the female for about 5 weeks. Chicks leave the nest for surrounding branches at about 5-6 weeks, well before they can fly, but depend on their parents for up to a year once fledged. Often, only one chick will survive.

Feeding habits

Spectacled Owls eat small mammals including mice and the occasional possum or skunk, insects, spiders, many Caterpillars, bats, birds up to the size of Jays, crabs and frogs.
They use a branch to perch on and scan the surrounding area. When prey is located, they drop with a swift pounce. Insects are snatched from foliage.

Video Spectacled Owl


copyright: M. Roth


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Pulsatrix perspicillata can be found from Southern Mexico through Argentina. It can also be found on Carribean islands such as Trinidad.
Spectacled Owl status Least Concern


Resident throughout range.

Distribution map

Spectacled Owl distribution range map

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