The Breeding Program

The NSO Breeding Program has four primary ways to maximize production of spotted owl eggs and chicks. By using a combination of artificial incubation, double-clutching, hand-raising, and parent rearing, the NSO Breeding Program has produced ten spotted owls since 2012. Prior to 2012, two chicks were born between 2008 and 2011 by natural parental rearing only.

Spotted owls are monogamous and will mate for life unless their mate dies. Life-long mating requires the owls to form a strong bond that can take many years to fully develop. There are currently seven breeding pairs in the Program. We are hopeful that new pairs will form next year as they have shown positive signs of courtship in the previous breeding season.

Double Clutching

Female spotted owls will lay 1-3 eggs once per year in a single clutch, however, it is possible for them to lay a second clutch of eggs in the same breeding season. All female owls in the NSO Breeding Program are "double clutched" which means the eggs from the first clutch are removed to stimulate the female to lay a second clutch. By removing the eggs, we are mimicking a "predation event". In the wild, if the first clutch of eggs is lost to predation or disease and there is abundant food, the female may naturally re-nest and lay more eggs.

Spotted owl eggs start arriving in March and each egg is replaced with a Dummy egg while the actual owl egg is artificially incubated. By artificially incubating the spotted owl eggs, we are able to closely monitor the humidity, temperature, and rotation of each developing egg.


Spotted owl chicks are hand-raised by the NSO Team for ten days before being returned to the nest. This technique is called "head-starting".

Chick Return

After ten days of 24 hour care by the NSO Breeding Team, chicks are returned to the nest and parent owls finish raising the chicks. Female spotted owls that are still sitting on dummy eggs will accept a chick regardless of it's age or if it is biologically related to them. After the chicks are returned, we are able to monitor the new family remotely using our nest cameras. We are able to monitor when the chick is being fed, interactions between the chick and its parents, as well as detect any developmental abnormalities, all with minimal disturbance to the owls.

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Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program

Langley, BC

Phone: 604 371 4434


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