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Spotted owl adult and two juveniles side-by-side on a branch.

Breeding Timeline

As winter ends, courtship begins for spotted owls. The female takes the lead by chasing the male at dusk to urge him into action. As a gesture of devotion, the male presents gifts of food to his mate, a behaviour called prey delivery, which symbolizes his commitment to care for their future family.

 

Together they search for potential nest sites, calling to each other with a repetitive one-note call when they find a nesting tree they like. Each owl will hop in the nest and move side-to-side to create a divot in the substrate that will hold their eggs, a behaviour called cup-forming.

FEBRUARY

MARCH

After choosing a nest, the female spends more and more time preparing it for her eggs. The owls will begin copulating several times per night, especially after the male brings food. Copulation cements the bond between two owls. In March, the spotted owl female begins to lay around 1-3 eggs, her first clutch.

 

After laying, the female assumes her role as guardian, keeping the egg warm night and day, only leaving the nest for a few minutes each night to defecate. During this time, she primarily relies on the male for food.

APRIL

Spotted owl eggs develop over 32 days and chicks spend 80 hours breaking free from their shell. At the NSOBP, we artificially incubate eggs and hand-raise chicks for 10-14 days to ensure they grow healthy and strong before going back into a nest where the female provides continuous care.

 

We also double clutch females to maximize the reproductive potential of each owl while respecting their annual breeding patterns. During this time, pairs continue copulating and may switch to a new nest before the female lays another 1-3 eggs, her second clutch.

MAY

Chicks that hatched in April are growing quickly, unfolding their wings, and getting ready to leave the nest and start exploring. They spend 4-5 weeks in the nest under their mother's watchful care. Around this time the NSOBP launches a live stream of a spotted owl nest camera, and second clutch eggs hatch.

JUNE

As summer begins, all the chicks leave their nest. With each small jump from branch to branch, their wings grow stronger, carrying them further as they grow more independent. Pairs return to their age-old routine—resting during the day, and then waking during dusk and dawn to hunt, call, and fly.

FEBRUARY

As winter ends, courtship begins for spotted owls. The female takes the lead by chasing the male at dusk to urge him into action. As a gesture of devotion, the male presents gifts of food to his mate, a behaviour called prey delivery, which symbolizes his commitment to care for their future family.

 

Together they search for potential nest sites, calling to each other with a repetitive one-note call when they find a nesting tree they like. Each owl will hop in the nest and move side-to-side to create a divot in the substrate that will hold their eggs, a behaviour called cup-forming.

APRIL

Spotted owl eggs develop over 32 days and chicks spend 80 hours breaking free from their shell. At the NSOBP, we artificially incubate eggs and hand-raise chicks for 10-14 days to ensure they grow healthy and strong before going back into a nest where the female provides continuous care.

 

We also double clutch females to maximize the reproductive potential of each owl while respecting their annual breeding patterns. During this time, pairs continue copulating and may switch to a new nest before the female lays another 1-3 eggs, her second clutch.

MAY

Chicks that hatched in April are growing quickly, unfolding their wings, and getting ready to leave the nest and start exploring. They spend 4-5 weeks in the nest under their mother's watchful care. Around this time the NSOBP launches a live stream of a spotted owl nest camera, and second clutch eggs hatch.

JUNE

As summer begins, all the chicks leave their nest. With each small jump from branch to branch, their wings grow stronger, carrying them further as they grow more independent. Pairs return to their age-old routine—resting during the day, and then waking during dusk and dawn to hunt, call, and fly.

After choosing a nest, the female spends more and more time preparing it for her eggs. The owls will begin copulating several times per night, especially after the male brings food. Copulation cements the bond between two owls. In March, the spotted owl female begins to lay around 1-3 eggs, her first clutch.

 

After laying, the female assumes her role as guardian, keeping the egg warm night and day, only leaving the nest for a few minutes each night to defecate. During this time, she primarily relies on the male for food.

MARCH

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