Land Bird Conservation Plan Colorado  

Executive Summary
Overview of Colorado
Physiographic Region 36
Physiographic Region 62
Physiographic Region 87

  • Cliff/Rock
  • Lowland Riparian
  • Moutain Shrubland
  • Pinyon Juniper
  • Ponderosa Pine
  • Sagebrush Shrubland
  • Semidesert Shrubland
  • Wetlands


  • Implementation Strategies
    Literature Cited
    Appendices

    Physiographic Region 87: Colorado Plateau

    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 reside locally from southern Utah and southern Colorado south into central Mexico. Within the Colorado Plateau region in Colorado, they inhabit only the Mesa Verde National Park area.

    Habitat Requirements: Mexican Spotted Owls nest in steep canyons with dense stands of large ponderosa pine or pinyon-juniper with Douglas-fir, and in old-growth mixed-conifer forest with high canopy closure and open understory. They generally favor multi-storied stands with snags and downed logs. In Canyonlands National Park in Utah, they also nest in deep canyons that lack the dense coniferous cover. They nest in tree cavities and on cliff ledges.

    Ecology: Mexican Spotted Owls form pair bonds in February and March and lay eggs in March and April. Young birds fledge in June. These owls do not migrate, although individuals sometimes move to lower elevations in winter. Their diet consists primarily of small- to medium-sized mammals, especially woodrats and white-footed mice; they also take voles, rabbits, and some birds.

    Management Issues and Conservation Recommendations: The primary threat Mexican Spotted Owls face is the loss of mature trees to timber harvesting and to stand-replacement fires, especially in steep canyons and in riparian zones. Even-aged management in particular is detrimental because it eliminates habitat and 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 levels. This species is not adequately monitored, and no data from BBS or other long-term monitoring are available. The U.S. Forest Service has conducted extensive surveys to determine this species' range and abundance in Colorado. This species is monitored by MCB with nocturnal surveys.

    Biological Objective: Increase the species' distribution and abundance; progress toward meeting the objective will be based upon results of the U.S. Forest Service surveys, MCB nocturnal surveys, or other monitoring programs.

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


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