Spectacled Owls

Name: Spectacled Owl
Scientific name: Pulsatrix perspicillata
Range: Central and Southern America
Habitat: Tropical rainforest, gallery forest
Status: Not endangered, but increasingly threatened by habitat destruction
Diet in the wild: Frogs, birds, bats, small mammals, insects and crustaceans
Diet in the zoo: Rodents
Life Span: Up to 25 years
Location at the Zoo: Bird Row; below Raptor Canyon

Range map for Spectacled Owls


Physical description: 

The Spectacled Owl is dark brown with a yellow belly.  There is a white patch on the neck and a brown belt across the chest.    Their name comes from the big yellow eyes with white specs around them.  They have strong beaks and feet. They are the largest of the tropical owls. The female is larger than the male.

Average Adult Size

  • Height 16-18 inches 
  • Weight - Male 1-1.5 pounds, Female 1.5-2 pounds 

Special anatomical, physiological or behavioral adaptations
  • Usually nocturnal and very elusive.   
  • Call - Long repeated tapping sound.  
  • Breeding - Spectacled owls nest late in the dry season, which falls between April and October in various parts of Central and South America. Although 2-3 eggs are laid, only one may survive long enough to leave the nest. The chicks fledge at about 6 months, but will remain with their parents for up to a year. Young spectacled owls have white heads and bodies with a dark mask.
  • Hunting Behavior: Hunts from its perch on a high branch, and then drops swiftly on any prey it has spotted.
  • Spectacled owls can live up to 25 years.

Comments about the Spectacled Owl of the Fort Worth Zoo
There are now two Spectacled Owls at the Fort Worth Zoo.  Unfortunally, being nocturnal they are not out often.

Sources and links

Web Page Authors
Elise Manning -manning_e@juno.com
Bryan Stevenson - bbs911@juno.com