Question Sheet: Spotty Survival


Before reading:

  1. Name an endangered or threatened species in the area where you live. Is anything being done to help save this species? See (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
  2. Why might it be important to save a species from extinction?

During reading:

  1. How does biologist Lowell Diller get a spotted owl to relax? Why does he do this?
  2. What are the main threats to the survival of northern spotted owls?
  3. Where do northern spotted owls live? In what sorts of places do they like to nest?
  4. Why are barred owls a threat to the spotted owl? Where did they come from?
  5. How is Gutierrez trying to determine whether the barred owl is negatively affecting the spotted owl?
  6. In what ways does rain affect the northern spotted owl?

After reading:

  1. Why might scientists be interested in saving the northern spotted owl?
  2. How might efforts to save the spotted owl be similar to attempts to save other endangered species and how might they be different?
  3. The deaths of birds often serve as a signal that the West Nile virus is present in an area. Why does the disease show up so quickly in certain birds? For additional information about West Nile virus and birds, see (U.S. Geological Survey) and Audubon Society).
  4. Are animals that are predators more likely to go extinct than other animals? Why or why not?
  5. Come up with two questions that you might want to ask of a biologist who studies spotted owls.
  6. Given the different threats that spotted owls face, how much control do scientists have in trying to save the birds? If you had some money to give toward an effort to save the owls, how should the money be used? Why?
  7. What might account for the observation that the population of spotted owls is declining in British Columbia and Washington but staying steady in Oregon and



  1. What steps must the U.S. government take to declare an animal endangered? Once an animal is declared endangered, how does the declaration change how the animal should be handled. See Fish and Wildlife Service).
  2. How long has logging been going on in the Pacific Northwest? You can get additional information about the history of logging in the region at (VanNatta Logging History Museum of Northwest Oregon).


  1. In children’s books, writers often make animals seem like people. Why would

    writers do this? Find an example of a story in which the writer makes an animal

    appear humanlike. Why would scientists tend to question this practice? Find an

    example of an animal story in which the writer avoids making the animals seem

    human. Which approach do you prefer? Why?

  2. Write a dialog involving a logger and a wildlife biologist, presenting each

    person’s point of view about whether it’s worth saving the northern spotted owl.


According to one estimate of the number of known or suspected pairs of northern spotted owls, there are about 30 pairs in British Columbia, 860 pairs in Washington, 2,900 pairs in Oregon, and 2,300 pairs in northern California. How many spotted owls are there altogether? What percentage of all spotted owls live in each state or province?