Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata)


French: Chouette à lunettes German: Brillenkauz Spanish: Lechuzón de anteojos

Strix perspicillata


, 1790,



Form pulsatrix treated as a separate, monotypic species by some recent authors#R#R, albeit not in recent world checklist#R, on basis of slightly larger size, “different vocalisations and very different plumage” and, although not clear where, “because the two overlap locally without hybridisation”; vocal differences, however, appear slight, and morphological ones difficult to gauge from limited material seen. Races chapmani, trinitatis and boliviana poorly differentiated, perhaps not valid. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. p. saturata Ridgway, 1914 – S Mexico (Veracruz and Oaxaca) to W Panama (Pacific slope to Chiriquí).
  • P. p. chapmani Griscom, 1932 – Caribbean slope of Costa Rica through E Panama to Colombia, W Ecuador and NW Peru.
  • P. p. trinitatis Bangs & T. E. Penard, 1918 – Trinidad (thought extinct, but recently reported#R).
  • P. p. perspicillata (Latham, 1790) – Spectacled Owl – Venezuela, the Guianas, Amazonian Brazil, and from E Colombia S to N Bolivia.
  • P. p. boliviana L. Kelso, 1933 – S Bolivia and N Argentina.
  • P. p. pulsatrix (Wied, 1820) – Short-browed Owl – E Brazil (Bahia S to Rio Grande do Sul) and Paraguay, probably also NE Argentina (Misiones).
  • Descriptive notes

    43–52 cm; 550–980 g (nominate), 500–982 g (saturata), 1075–1250 g (pulsatrix). Large owl. Facial disc very dark brown, with... read more


    Deep, descending sequence, “PUP-pup-pup-pup-po” or “PUM-PUM-pum-pum”,... read more


    Dense tropical and subtropical rainforest with mature trees; uses forest interior and forest edge,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Primarily vertebrates: small mammals up to size of opossums (Didelphidae), rabbits (Leporidae), skunks (Mustelidae), rodents such as ... read more


    Lays mostly Apr–Jun, in dry season and early wet season; some variation, e.g. Sept–Oct in Panama, Aug in Surinam; c. Jul–... read more


    Presumably resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Very local, but often considered fairly common where it occurs. Fairly common to uncommon in Mexico; locally from rare to... read more

    Recommended citation

    Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P., Wood, K.L., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).