Congo Bay Owl (Phodilus prigoginei)

Congo Bay Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Tytonidae | [latin] Phodilus prigoginei | [authority] Schouteden, 1952 | [UK] Congo Bay Owl | [FR] Phodile du Congo | [DE] Kongo-Maskeneule | [ES] Lechuza del Congo | [NL] Prigogine’s Uil


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Phodilus prigoginei AF e DR Congo, nw Tanzania


Members of the genus Phodilus are small owls with facial discs resembling a mask. The disc extends into what appear as ear tufts, and there si a pronounced ‘V’ of short feathers extending to the base of the beak. There is a rim of stiff feathers around the disc which, by use of a set of muscles can be moved to allow changes tothe shape and depth of the disc. This may be an adaptation to allow focussing or ranging of sound into the ears. In many ways similar to the closely related Tyto genus

Physical charateristics

Extremely beautiful, rich chestnut-brown owl. Only female ever described. Rusty-brown above with paler, orangey underparts. Compact and oval facial disc with dark eyes. Voice Possibly long, mournful whistles

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 23 cm size max.: 29 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


Africa : East Democratic Republic of the Congo, Northwest Tanzania


The record in 1951 was at 2430 m, in a grass clearing. The 1996 rediscovery was in montane gallery forest at 1830 m, where the slopes are covered with grass and bush and the lower slopes and valleys with montane forest. The species would appear to require a mosaic of grassland and either montane or bamboo forest.


No data

Feeding habits

No data


This species is undoubtedly very rare and has a very small known range. It would appear to have very specific habitat requirements and, while a large area of its habitat remains, forest clearance and degradation are likely to be causing declines in range and numbers. It therefore qualifies as Endangered.
Phodilus prigoginei had not been recorded since the type-specimen was collected in 1951 at Muusi, in the Itombwe Mountains, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), until its rediscovery in 1996, when a female was mist-netted in the extreme south-east corner of Itombwe Forest. This rediscovery extends the species’s known range outhwards by c.95 km and lowers its altitudinal range by approximately 600 m. Itombwe is not the only forest in central Africa with a large area of highland forest/grassland habitat, and it is possible the species occurs elsewhere, especially in Nyungwe Forest. There is a possible sighting in Burundi from 1974 and, in 1990, calls of an unidentified owl were tape-recorded in Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda. Recent surveys of Kibira and Mt Kabogo, in which this species was targeted, were unsuccessful.
Congo Bay Owl status Endangered


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Congo Bay Owl distribution range map

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