The Spectacled Owl is common resident in many kinds of lowland tropical forest such as rainforest, savanna woodland and dry forest. It occurs throughout the tropical regions of South America from northern Argentina to southern Mexico. Due to its reclusive and nocturnal habits it is seldom seen, but its distinctive pulsating vocalizations are a common aspect of the nocturnal chorus in Neotropical lowland forest. It is polytypic with six subspecies recognized, differentiated on the basis of variations in underparts coloration and patterning. There is also subtle subspecific variation in voice. It forages nocturnally, feeding primarily on vertebrates up to the size of opossums, rabbits, and skunks. It is distinctive throughout most of its range, but appears very similar to the Tawny-browed Owl (Pulsatrix koeniswaldiana) of southeast Brazil and Paraguay, from which it differs in voice and in the coloration of their facial spectacles. When heard, it may be confused with it congener, the Band-bellied Owl (Pulsatrix melanota), which inhabits lower elevations in the Andes.