Family Barn-owls (Tytonidae)


Congo Bay-owl (Phodilus prigoginei)


French: Phodile de Prigogine German: Kongomaskeneule Spanish: Lechuza del Congo
Other common names: Itombwe Owl, African Bay-owl

Phodilus Prigoginei


, 1952,

Muusi, 2432 m, Itombwe Mountains, DRCongo


Occasionally treated as a race of P. badius, but this seems hardly probable, and the two do not appear closely related. Inclusion in Phodilus perhaps questionable, and genetic research required; present species shows some similarities to P. badius in plumage coloration, but shape of facial disc rather different, more heart-shaped as in Tyto, leading to its treatment in that genus#R#R#R, unless it belongs in a genus of its own. Monotypic.


Itombwe (Mitumba) Massif, extreme E DRCongo; also probably adjacent SW Rwanda (Nyungwe Forest) and NW Burundi (near Teza).

Descriptive notes

23–25 cm, 195 g (probably female); wingspan 63 cm. Male undescribed, presumably similar to female. Female deep rufous-brown above, feather tips with small black-... read more


Not definitely known. Unconfirmed but probable Rwanda record based on call, described as “wok... read more


Both definite records from montane forest interspersed with bamboo thicket and grassland, at 1830 m... read more

Food and feeding

Undescribed, but long legs might indicate that it spends much time hunting on ground; the probable observation in 1974 involved a bird on... read more


Undescribed, though suspected to nest in tree cavities.


Presumably sedentary.

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. CITES II. Restricted-range species: present in Albertine Rift Mountains EBA. Rare and elusive, with overall population estimated at 2500–9999 mature... read more

Recommended citation

Bruce, M.D., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Congo Bay-owl (Phodilus prigoginei). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).