Family: Owls (Strigidae)
Genus & Species : Strix occidentalis. The California Spotted Owl (subspecies) is Strix occidentalis occidentalis. The Mexican Spotted Owl (subspecies) is Strix occidentalis lucida.
Status: An uncommon to common owl in the forested mountains of California and Arizona. Not present in the desert areas of southeastern California or southwestern Arizona.
Habitat: Spotted Owls prefer mature montane forests and steep, shady canyons. They may occur in hardwood, coniferous, or mixed forests, and range in elevation from 4100 to 9000 feet. Farther north, in the redwoods, they drop down to the coastal forests.
Notes: These medium-sized owls (17") are nocturnal. Woodrats are their primary prey. They mate for life and are often spotted roosting together in trees, from the lowest to the highest branches. Once located, they often appear tame, allowing for excellent observation.
Best Chances: In southeastern Arizona, for the past several years, a family of Spotted Owls has been easy to view in Miller Canyon, about a 20-minute hike above the Beatty's Guest Ranch (http://www.beattysguestranch.com). In California it's a bit tougher, but there has been a family seen intermittently in William Heise County Park (http://www.co.san-diego.ca.us/parks/Camping/heise_map.html), which is about 4 miles south of Julian.