Raedeke Owl Surveyors Locate 21-Year-Old Spotted Owl
In August of 2023, the Raedeke Associates, Inc. spotted owl surveyors located a male owl that they have confirmed to be over 21 years old. Identifying the band on his left leg (orange with black polka dots) and comparing that to historic banding records, a complete snapshot of this bird’s life history can be determined. This male hatched in 2002 on the east side of the Cascade mountains. He then dispersed approximately 10 miles to the west, over the Cascade crest, where he arrived in his new territory in 2003. He migrated among nearby sites for some years, but generally established a territory at a single site from 2011 until 2023. Throughout his life, this male has unfortunately never had a successful nest with offspring. He had an unsuccessful nesting attempt in 2014 with a female who he had paired with inconsistently between 2009 and 2014. Raedeke Associates, Inc. owl surveyors suspect that this is the male they have heard at nearby sites for the past few years, but he proved difficult to locate until this past summer. He appears to have been switching between sites near to where he was located in 2023.
Based on the historic banding data, we expect that this male was 21 years and 3 or 4 months old when he was located in August of 2023. The Cornell Ornithology Lab cites the oldest known wild spotted owl as being at least 21 years old. This elderly owl was located alive in Oregon in 2006 and originally banded in 1988. The orange with black polka dots banded male found in western Washington this past August could potentially break the age record if he is located in 2024 and his band is re-identified.