Frequently Asked Questions
How many owls are there at the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program?
As of November 2022, there are 31 northern spotted owls in the NSOBP.
Can I come see the owls?
Due to COVID-19, we have had to suspend our public tours. When it is safe to do so, we are open for tours on select dates from June to January. Tours are conducted in a way to have minimal disturbance to the owls, but visitors will get the opportunity to see one of the non-breeding and non-releasable owls up close. In the meantime, we are offering virtual programming. Click here for more information.
Where are you located? What hours are you open?
We are located near Langley, British Columbia on 25 acres of land leased to us by a private farm owner. As the facility is located at the back of the farm, we do not publicize our address. We are not open to the public.
Why do you artificially incubate the eggs?
Artificial incubation allows us to closely monitor humidity, temperature, and rotation of the owl eggs in a sterile environment. By removing the eggs from the nest and artificially incubate them, we are also able to "double clutch" each nesting female and produce twice as many eggs compared to if the females naturally incubated their eggs.
Click here to learn more about artificial incubation.
I think I found a spotted owl. What should I do?
With fewer than six wild spotted owls left in BC, sightings are very rare! If you suspect you've sighted a northern spotted owl, take note of the location. Are you in an urban area? What do the trees look like? Spotted owls require 3000 hectares (30 kilometres squared) of 100+ year old forest to survive. If you still think you have found a spotted owl, try to get a photo or record the owl calling. Barred owls are commonly mistaken for spotted owls as they are both medium-sized owls with dark eyes and no ear tufts, but barred owls can be found in urban habitats. Click here to compare spotted owls vs. barred owls. If you still suspect it is a spotted owl, email us!
Why do you breed barred owls?
Click here to learn more about the role barred owls play in the NSOBP.
How many wild spotted owls are there in British Columbia?
As of 2022, there are fewer than six wild individual northern spotted owls remaining in British Columbia. In Washington, Oregon, and California, the population of the northern spotted owl has significantly decreased.
When will you release the spotted owls?
Spotted owl releases will be conducted by the Province of BC. The first-ever release of NSOBP-born spotted owls took place in the summer of 2022. Read the press release here. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Resource Operations, and Rural Development has developed an internal draft release plan, but it is not currently publicly available.
Where will the owls be released?
The Province of BC has protected habitat within Wildlife Management Areas (100% forest retention), provincial parks, and Managed Wildlife Management Areas. These areas have been designated to protect habitat across the range of the spotted owl in BC. More information can be found here.
There will not be any releases on Vancouver Island. The northern spotted owl has never naturally dispersed onto Vancouver Island. Although there is suitable old growth forest on the Island, spotted owls will not be released in these areas as it is not part of their natural range.
How do you check the owls health?
Every fall we begin our annual health exams of all the owls in the Program. Our office turns into an exam room and we bring in each owl to be examined by our veterinary team. Our vet checks their ears, eyes, beak, keel, feet, etc, the owls are weighed, and blood is taken for further lab analysis.
Click on the video below and watch as we take you into the lab for another health check we do with owl feces!