Spectacled Owl - Pulsatrix perspicillata
Calls - Pulsatrix perspicillata
Introduction: The Spectacled Owl is a medium-sized to large owl with a rounded head with no ear-tufts. It has a dark face with contrasting 'spectacles' made up of white eyebrows and other white streaking between the eyes and on the cheeks.
[For help with terms used in the description, see parts of an owl. For general characteristics common to most owl species, see owl physiology.]
Description: The facial disc is dark brown, bordered by long white eyebrows, white lores and white malar (cheek) streaks. Eyes are bright orange-yellow. The cere and bill are yellowish-horn with a greenish tint towards the tip. The throat is white, forming a semi-collar, while the chin is black. The rest of the head and neck are uniform blackish-brown.
Upperparts are uniform dark brown, merging into a more blackish colouration in the hindneck. Remiges and rectrices are barred with paler grey-brown. The chest has a broad dark brown band at the top, while the breast and belly are uniform pale yellow to yellowish-buff.
Tarsi and toes are almost fully feathered creamy-buff. The unfeathered parts of the toes are whitish or pale grey, and the claws are dark.
Juveniles are feathered mainly white, with a contrasting blackish heart-shaped face and brown on the wings and tail.
Habits: An unsociable bird. Generally nocturnal, with activity normally beginning after dusk and continuing to dawn. Roosts singly by day in trees with dense foliage. Most vocal on calm, moonlit nights.
Size: Length 43-52cm.
Wing length males 305-347mm, females 317-360mm. Tail length 164-215mm. Weight males 453-680g, females 680-906g.
Voice: A series of knocking or tapping sounds with a popping
effect "PUP-pup-pup-pup-po", each
successive note being lower and weaker, and the rhythm quicker as the series progresses.
The Female also has a hawk-like scream "ker-WHEEER", which has been
likened to a steam whistle.
Hunting & Food: 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.
Breeding: 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.
Habitat: 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.
Distribution: Mexico, Central America, Northern two-thirds of
Distribution of the Spectacled Owl Pulsatrix perspicillata
Status: Generally uncommon, but locally common in areas such as Costa Rica, Colombia and the Amazon.
Original Description: Latham, John. 1790. Index orntihologicus, sive Systema ornithologiae; complectens avium divisionem in classes, ordines, genera, species, ipsarumque varietates: adjectis synonymis, locis, descriptionibus, &c. (Index Orn.) 1: p 58.
P. p. perspicillata,
P. p. boliviana,
P. p. chapmani,
P. p. saturata,
P. p. trinitatis
Page compiled by Deane Lewis. Page last updated 2013-08-04
OwlPages.com Owl Species ID: 170.010.000