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Spotted owl adult behind a snag with green leaves around it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many owls are there at the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program?

There are over 30 northern spotted owls at the NSOBP, though the exact number varies as new owls are born and owls are released.

Can I come see the owls?

Our facility is not open to the public. We offer off-site presentations for schools and the public where individuals can meet Small Eyes, our ambassador spotted owl, and learn more about the NSOBP.

Where are you located? What hours are you open?

We are located in 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 monitor the development of each egg by “candling” to see the internal structures and adjust incubator settings according to the needs of each individual egg. By replicating the nurturing conditions that female spotted owls provide, we reduce the risk of breakage, optimize their chances of hatching successfully, and make double clutching possible.

I think I found a spotted owl. What should I do?

With fewer than six wild spotted owls left in Canada, it is extremely unlikely to find a spotted owl. These owls exclusively live in old-growth forests and are not found in urban areas or on nearby islands. Check out our identification resource for more information. If the owl appears injured, contact OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) Rehabilitation Society or your local wildlife rehabilitation centre.

I have property where spotted owls could be released. How can I get involved?

The Government of B.C. is responsible for developing and implementing the release plan. There are 300,000 hectares of protected habitat in Wildlife Management Areas (100% forest retention), provincial parks, and Managed Wildlife Management Areas for spotted owl recovery. No releases will occur on private property.

Why do you take owls from the wild?

These decisions are made after careful consideration regarding the long-term survival of spotted owls in Canada. Individual owls brought into the conservation breeding population from the wild play a key role in the recovery of their entire species. These individuals add important genetic diversity that’s crucial for future generations of healthy and resilient owls.

The NSOBP is designed to provide a safe, rich, and controlled environment where the owls can thrive and reproduce without the pressures and threats they may face in the wild. Our conservation breeding goes hand-in-hand with a comprehensive release strategy. We acknowledge that spotted owls play vital roles in their old-growth ecosystems and our efforts are aimed at increasing populations so that eventually many owls can thrive independently in their natural habitat. 

Some of the owls brought in from the wild to the NSOBP were abandoned as chicks or injured, and would not have survived without our support. 

Why do you have barred owls?

Barred owls and spotted owls are closely related so we can learn a lot from them. Barred owl eggs undergo the same incubation process as spotted owl eggs to help us test our methodologies and refine our techniques. Barred owl chicks then offer inexperienced spotted owls the opportunity to raise a chick.

How many wild spotted owls are there in British Columbia?

There are fewer than six wild individual northern spotted owls remaining in British Columbia. The range of the northern spotted owl extends into Washington, Oregon, and northern California, but the population in the United States has significantly declined as well. 

When will you release the spotted owls?

The first spotted owl releases into protected habitat took place in 2022. Learn more about releases conducted by the Government of B.C.

Where will the owls be released?

The Government of B.C. chooses release sites based on the type of habitat available, potential location of spotted owls in the wild , and partnerships with local First Nations. There will not be any releases on Vancouver Island, even though there is old-growth habitat because northern spotted owls have never naturally dispersed onto Vancouver Island.

How do you check the health of the owls?

Our team performs visual checks twice a day to evaluate the overall health and behaviour of each owl. We also run routine analyses of their feces throughout the year. Every fall, all the owls are also examined by our veterinarian who does a physical exam (checking their ears, eyes, beak, keel, feet, etc.), weighs the owls, and collects a blood sample for further lab analysis. 

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