Inhabiting elevations between sea level and 2500 meters, mottled owls are often quite abundant within their range. Their habitats are extensive and diverse; they can live in a wide variety of forest and thicket edge, tropical rainforest, dry thorn forest, tropical lowland forest, pine-oak woodland, and humid evergreen jungle. They can also live in areas with scattered trees, often close to towns and villages. ("Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 5. Barn-owls to Hummingbirds", 1999)
- Habitat Regions
- Range elevation
- 0 to 2500 m
- 0.00 to 8202.10 ft
In owls, females are generally larger than the males. This evolution of a reversed size dimorphism has been explained in many different ways. Researchers measure body mass during the breeding season, wing length, tail length, bill length, tarsal length, and foot span. Female mottled owls weighed significantly more than males and have significantly longer wing chords. (; Gerhardt and Gerhardt, 1987)has the most noticable dimorphism yet documented among owls.
- Sexual Dimorphism
- female larger
- Range mass
- 175 to 320 g
- 6.17 to 11.28 oz
- Range length
- 355 to 280 mm
- 13.98 to 11.02 in
- Mating System
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- Mottled owls breed once yearly.
- Breeding season
- The breeding season occurs between February and May.
- Range eggs per season
- 1 to 2
- Parental Investment
There is no information available regarding the lifespan of this species.
Mottled owls are solitary and strictly nocturnal. They roost in dense foliage by day and may be mobbed by small birds if detected. These owls spend their waking hours hunting, preening, yawning, stretching, and combing their heads with their claws. ("Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 5. Barn-owls to Hummingbirds", 1999)
The home range of male (Gerhardt, et al., 1994)is 2.8 hectares.
Communication and Perception
This species uses an array of vocalizations, such as hoots, whistles, screeches, screams, purrs, snorts, chitters, and hisses. When a mottled owl hoots, it is often territorial and associated with courting. The males have a lower pitched hoot than females. When faced with a threat, owls produce clicking noises with their tongues. As part of a mating display, owls have the ability to clap their wings in flight. (Gerhardt, 1991)
Mottled owls produce an array of calls. Their territorial call consists of a series of deep hoots, sounding like "bru bru" and "bu bu bu" or cowooawoo or keeooweeyo. They also have a whistled screech. Mottled owls have been observed to have an enlarged voice box which allows them to produce low-pitched notes for their size. (Gerhardt, 1991)
Owls have keen hearing and vision in low-light situations. They lack color vision.
beetles, grasshoppers, and cockroaches. They also feed on small mammals, birds, snakes, lizards, salamanders, and frogs. They are considered opportunistic feeders as they may be attracted to artificial lights. Mottled owls primarily hunt from perches which can be found along a forest edge. ("Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 5. Barn-owls to Hummingbirds", 1999)individuals feed on a diverse diet including large insects such as
Mottled owls have keen vision, hearing, and maneuverable flight, contributing to their success as predators. Although they lack color vision, these owls can rotate their heads to see in different directions. These owls also have sensitive ears that allow them to pinpoint sound sources in total darkness. Still, their ranges of hearing are not wide and contain deaf spots. Their wing feathers have adapted to dampen sound during flight, so they can approach their prey without being heard.
- Animal Foods
This species is a generalist predator, and potentially impacts many prey populations. ("Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 5. Barn-owls to Hummingbirds", 1999)
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Mottled owls have been studied by scientists and research has been published on their breeding behavior. They also help control some rodent and insect pest populations. ("The Food Habits of Sympatric Ciccaba Owls in Northern Guatemala.", 1994; Buchanan, 1971; Gerhardt, 1991; Gerhardt, et al., 1994; Wylie , 1976)
- Positive Impacts
- research and education
- controls pest population
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There are no known adverse affects ofon humans.
This widespread species is not globally threatened. ("Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 5. Barn-owls to Hummingbirds", 1999)are considered common in many habitats and can be seen largely in protected areas.
Matthew Wund (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Jess Fetter (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
uses sound to communicate
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
active during the night
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
uses sight to communicate
The British Ornithologists' Union. 1985. A Dictionary of Birds. South Dakota: Buteo Books.
1999. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 5. Barn-owls to Hummingbirds. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
Birds of Prey Foundation. 2004. "Owl Facts" (On-line). Accessed March 28, 2003 at http://www.birds-of-prey.org/educate/owls.htm.
1994. The Food Habits of Sympatric Ciccaba Owls in Northern Guatemala.. Journal of Field Ornithology, 65: 258-264.
Owl Pages. 2005. "The Owl Pages: Information about Owls" (On-line). Accessed September 22, 2004 at http://www.owlpages.com/species/strix/virgata/Default.htm.
Buchanan, M. 1971. The Mottled Owl Ibis, 113: 105-106.in Trinidad..
Gerhardt, , D. Gerhardt. 1987. Size, Dimorspism, and Related Characteristics of Ciccaba Owls From Guatemala. 2nd Owl Symposium: 190-196. Accessed September 22, 2004 at http://www.ncrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/gtr/other/gtr-nc190/GERHARD.PDF#xml.
Gerhardt, R. 1991. Response of Mottled Owls to Broadcast of Conspecific Call.. Journal of Field Ornithology, 62: 239-244.
Gerhardt, R., D. Gerhardt, C. Flatten. 1994. Breeding Biology and Home Range of Two Ciccaba Owls. Wilson Bulletin, 106: 629-639.
Wylie , S. 1976. Breeding the Mottled Owl at the St. Louis Zoo. The Avicultural Magazine, 82: 64-65.