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Did You Know? 20 Incredible Congo Bay Owl Facts

Amazing Congo bay owl facts to learn more about this endangered species

A Congo bay owl (Phodilus prigoginei) of the Pholidus genus is an Old World owl found in the forest of eastern and central Africa. These owls are also commonly known with two other alternate names: African owl and Itombwe owl. Extending over a large area in the past, these owls have become one of the most endangered birds of the world at present. Currently, their distribution is restricted only to the montane forest of Africa. These birds are following a rapidly declining trend. Development of agricultural settlements and forest clearance are major reasons for their endangered status. The last specimen in Burundi was spotted in 1974. Recently, the Itombwe forest has been recognized as a conservation site of this highly declining species. Several other conservation measures and surveys are underway to protect their range map and prevent these owls from becoming extinct.

The Congo bay owl range map appears to be restricted within forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Nyunge forest of Rwanda, and Burundi, keeping them within boundaries of the east African montane forest. This bird species prefers the highland forest and grassland of the Itombwe forest of central Africa. This indicates that these owls might also be present in nearby montane forests of central and east Africa with similar habitats. Keep on reading to know more amazing facts about this owl.

For more relatable content, check out these flammulated owl interesting facts and short-eared owl facts for kids.

Congo Bay Owl Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Congo bay owl?

A Congo bay owl (Phodilus prigoginei) is a type of owl and is listed as an endangered bird of the world.

What class of animal does a Congo bay owl belong to?

The Congo bay owl (Phodilus prigoginei) species of the Strigiformes order and the Tytonidae family belongs to the class Aves, the common class for all birds.

How many Congo bay owls are there in the world?

The present population status of the endangered Congo bay owl is assumed to range between 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, which equates to 3,750-14,999 total individuals. Based on the estimated status, their population is rounded off to range between 3,500-15,000 individuals. Itombwe owl distribution is threatened across its entire range in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Nyunge forest in Rwanda owing to large-scale habitat destruction. Continuous declining numbers have given this African species a place on the list of endangered birds of the world.

Where does a Congo bay owl live?

The Congo bay owl (Phodilus prigoginei) is an Old World bird endemic to the forests of east and central Africa. The Itombwe owl distribution mainly includes Itombwe Mountains, extremely eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Nyungwe forest in southwestern parts of Rwanda. Some species might also be found in Burundi.

What is a Congo bay owl's habitat?

The Congo bay owl is found in African forest and grassland habitats. They can inhabit grasslands up to an elevation of 8202.1 ft (2500 m) approximately. These birds also occupy bushes and grass on higher slopes of gallery forests. In lower slopes, they are distributed in the montane forest made up of bamboo thickets and grassland. Apart from woods and scrub tops of the montane forest, these Itombwe owls are also found widely in the Nyungwe forest of Rwanda. A small population is found even in disturbed areas suggesting their ability to cope with small alterations of habitat.

Who does the Congo bay owl live with?

Birds of Strigiformes order, like a red owl, are generally solitary species found to roost alone throughout most of the year. However, there is no information regarding the social behavior of the Congo bay owl.

How long does a Congo bay owl live?

There is no data regarding the lifespan of an Itombwe owl or the Congo bay owl.

How do they reproduce?

The reproductive behavior of this bird is highly understudied. It is assumed that they nest in tree cavities and lay eggs in those cavities. However, there is no accurate data regarding the litter size and incubation period of the owl. The fledging period of owlets is also unknown.

What is their conservation status?

According to the Red List produced by the International Union of Conservation of Nature or the IUCN, the Congo bay owl (Phodilus prigoginei) is classified as an Endangered species throughout its range. It is an exceptionally rare species with a very small distribution. This species is definitely declining throughout its range, mainly because of forest degradation and destruction. This Endangered species is also threatened by some secondary causes like hunting and mining.

Congo Bay Owl Fun Facts

What does the Congo bay owl look like?

A Congo bay owl (Phodilus prigoginei) is a small-sized owl that shares some physical similarities with the species of the oriental bay owl. Only female Congo bay owls have been spotted; therefore, males and juveniles remain undescribed. Female birds have a rust-brown plumage on the upper part of the body. The nape and the crown are finely marked with black and white spots. On the wing, several dark brown bars are present. The Congo bay owl has a black-colored bill, and the facial disc is lighter than the rest of the body. It resembles the heart-shaped facial disc of a barn owl. The lower part of the body is paler with finely spotted breasts and flanks.

The Congo bay owl is nocturnal in nature.

*We've been unable to source an image of the Congo bay owl and have used an image of an oriental bay owl instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of the Congo bay owl, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected]

How cute are they?

Congo bay owls are generally not considered to be cute by humans because of their dull colors.

How do they communicate?

There is very little information regarding the owl's communication methods. It is assumed that these owls use vocalizations and produce a 'wok-wok-wok' call to communicate with each other.

How big is a Congo bay owl?

The length of a Congo bay owl (Phodilus prigoginei) of the Pholidus genus ranges between 9.1-9.8 in (23-25 cm). They are smaller than tawny owls.

How fast can a Congo bay owl fly?

The flying speed of the Congo bay owl is unknown.

How much does a Congo bay owl weigh?

The average weight of a Congo bay owl (Phodilus prigoginei) of the Pholidus genus is 6.9 oz (195 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female owls are known as cock and hen, respectively.

What would you call a baby Congo bay owl?

A baby owl is called an owlet.

What do they eat?

There is no data regarding the diet and foraging behavior of the Congo bay owl. However, the species seems to have long legs, which suggests that the Congo bay owl probably hunts and forages on the ground.

Are they dangerous?

No, Congo bay owls are not dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

Owls are nocturnal in nature, and they generally do not make good pets.

Did you know...

Previously, Congo bay owls were regarded as a race of the oriental bay owl of the Pholidus genus and the Tytonidae family. However, later this hypothesis was discarded as the species of Congo bay owl and oriental bay owl are not even closely related.

Are Congo bay owls endangered? 

These Congo bay owls are officially classified as an Endangered species by the IUCN Red List. They have a very small range with very low population densities, making them one of the most vulnerable birds of the world. Unrestricted habitat destruction and forest clearance have confined owl populations to a small area. Several localities where the species was being re-discovered in the late '90s, like the forest on the central savanna plateau, have widely degraded. An increase in agricultural or cultivable lands and livestock grazing in higher altitudes have made the species of Congo bay owl endangered.

Does the Congo bay owl migrate? 

Any specific migrating pattern has not been observed in the Congo bay owl. This suggests that it is probably a sedentary bird species that generally does not migrate long distances. Local migrations might take place, but the pattern is not mentioned due to a lack of accurate data.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our griffon vulture interesting facts and burrowing owl fun facts for kids pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable owl coloring pages.

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