Land Bird Conservation Plan Colorado  

Executive Summary
Overview of Colorado
Physiographic Region 36
Physiographic Region 62

  • Alpine Tundra
  • Aspen
  • Cliff/Rock
  • High Elevation Riparian
  • Lowland Riparian
  • Mixed Conifer
  • Mountain Shrubland
  • Ponderosa Pine
  • Sagebrush Shrubland
  • Spruce Fir
  • Wetlands

  • Physiographic Region 87
    Implementation Strategies
    Literature Cited

    Physiographic Region 62: Southern Rocky Mountains

    Mexican Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis lucida)

    Associated Species: Other species that may use habitat in a similar way and/or respond similarly to threats, management, and conservation activities include Flammulated Owl and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

    Distribution: Mexican Spotted Owls inhabit local areas from southern Utah and southern Colorado south into central Mexico. Recent nesting in Colorado has been confirmed in only three areas: Mesa Verde, the Wet Mountains, and near Pikes Peak.

    Habitat Requirements: Mexican Spotted Owls nest in steep canyons with dense stands of large ponderosa pine or pinyon-juniper with Douglas-fir, and in mature to old-growth mixed-conifer forest with high canopy closure and open understory. Favored stands generally are multi-storied, with snags and downed logs. They nest in tree cavities or on cliff ledges.

    Ecology: Pair bonding probably occurs in February and March, and eggs are laid in March and April. Young birds fledge in June. Members of this subspecies are nonmigratory, although individuals sometimes move to lower elevations in winter. Their diet primarily consists of small- to medium-sized mammals, especially woodrats and white-footed mice (Peromyscus spp.); they also take voles, rabbits, and some birds.

    Management Issues and Conservation Recommendations: The primary threat is the loss of mature trees to timber harvesting, and stand-replacement fires, especially in steep canyons and riparian zones. Even-aged management in particular is detrimental as it not only eliminates habitat but eventually results in stands that lack the multi-storied structure the owls prefer. Prescribed burns outside of the breeding season can reduce the fuel load and lessen the potential for catastrophic fires. The Mexican Spotted Owl Recovery Team recommendations include protecting 240 ha (600 ac) of habitat around each nest (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1995). Management activities should follow recommendations in the recovery plan.

    Status and Reasons for Concern: This species has a high conservation need locally and throughout its range. The Mexican Spotted Owl is listed as a Threatened Species at both the federal and state (Colorado) levels. Because of its rarity and nocturnal habits, this species is not monitored by the BBS, and no data are available from any other long-term monitoring programs. The USFS and NPS monitor their known nest sites. This species is monitored by MCB with nocturnal surveys.

    Biological Objective: Increase the species' distribution and abundance based on results of USFS surveys and MCB or other monitoring programs.

    Selected References: Andrews and Righter 1992, Gutiérrez et al. 1995, Kingery 1998.

    Copyright 2000 - Colorado Partners In Flight. All Rights Reserved. Webmaster - Scott Hutchings