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Mottled Owl

Ciccaba virgata

Length: 14 inches Wingspan: 36 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Brownish overall, vertical barring on throat and chest, dark eyes, no ear tufts

Mottled Owl - Ciccaba virgataThe Mottled Owl is an owl of the American tropics, and are found in much of Mexico, Central America, and South America.  The species is quite adaptable and can be found in a variety of forested habitats.  The species was unknown in the United States until 1983, when a road-killed owl was found in Texas.

Habitat: Mottled Owls are found in a variety of forested habitats, from dry scrubland forest, to humid tropic forest.

Diet: Feeds on a variety of small animals, including large insects, rodents and other small mammals, lizards, snakes, birds, frogs, and amphibians.

Behavior: Nocturnal.  Mottled Owls often hunts by observing from a perch, typically on a tree branch at the edge of a forest clearing.  When prey is spotted, the Mottled Owl will swoop down and grab it with the talons.  They can also catch prey in flight, most often, large insects, but they also occasionally will take a bird in flight.

Nesting: The nest of a Mottled Owl is most often a tree cavity, but also could be in nest of another bird, or on the top of a broken tree.  Pairs mate for life, although males will sometimes have two female "mates".   Two eggs are typically laid, with both parents helping to raise the young.

Song: Variety of calls, will often respond to calls of other owl species as well.

Migration: Considered a permanent resident throughout its range.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Mottled Owl sightings

Similar Species: Spotted Owl, Barred Owl

Conservation Status: There are currently no perceived major threats to Mottled Owl populations, and the IUCN cites it as a species of "Least Concern"

Further Information: 1) The Owl Pages - Mottled Owl

2) - Mottled Owl

3) BirdLife International - Mottled Owl

Photo Information: April 28th, 2011 - Guatemala - Dominic Sherony - Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License 2.0


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Mottled Owl - North American Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Mottled Owl Photos (coming soon!!)