The Spectacled Owl, Pulsatrix perspicillata, is a large tropical owl. It is a resident breeder from southern Mexico and Trinidad, through Central America, south to southern Brazil, Paraguay and northwestern Argentina. There are six subspecies.
The Spectacled Owl can range from 17 to 20 inches in length. It is unmistakable with brown upperparts, head and upper breast, white facial markings and whitish to yellowish-ochre underparts. The eyes are yellow and the beak is pale. The juvenile is even more distinctive than the adult, being completely white apart from a chocolate brown facial disc.
The primary sound made by the Spectacled Owl consists of knocking or tapping sounds with a popping effect: PUP-pup-pup-pup-po or BOO Boo boo boo boo. Each progressive note becomes weaker but faster as the call continues. Females also make a hawk-like scream, ker-WHEEER, which has often been compared to a steam-whistle.
The Spectacled Owl is primarily a bird of tropical rain forests, being found mostly in areas where dense, old-growth forest is profuse. However, it may enter secondary habitats, such as forest edges, especially while hunting. On occasion, they have been found in dry forests, treed savanna plains, plantations and semi-open areas with trees.
This species is largely nocturnal, starting activity right around the time of last light at dusk and usually being back on their roosts for the day around first light. It is a solitary, unsocial bird, usually roosting singly each day and only peaceable associating with others of their own species for reproductive purposes.
The Spectacled Owl is the largest and most dominant owl in its range, with the larger Great Horned Owl rarely venturing into true rainforest habitats. Most hunting starts with the owl perched on a branch and scanning the area, then dropping with a quick pounce when prey is located. It preys principally on a wide array of mammals, eating almost anything type that is nocturnally active.