The bay owls (Phodilus) are a genus of Old World barn-owls. The defining characteristics of bay owls are their smaller bodies, in comparison to other barn owls, and their U- or V-shaped faces.[1] These owls can be found in South to Southeast Asia, and parts of central Africa within forest and grassland ecosystems.[1]

Bay owl
Oriental bay owl
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Tytonidae
Genus: Phodilus
Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, I, 1830
  • Photodilus

Taxonomy and systematicsEdit

The genus Phodilus was erected by the French zoologist Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in 1830.[2] Some taxonomists place two species in the genus, while others include three.[3] The name is from the Ancient Greek phōs for "light" or "daylight" and deilos for "timid" or "cowardly".[4] Most classification schemes recognize three extant species in this genus:[5]

Image Scientific Name Common name Distribution
Phodilus prigoginei Congo bay owl Itombwe Mountains in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
  Phodilus badius Oriental bay owl Philippines, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei
  Phodilus assimilis Sri Lanka bay owl Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats in Kerala, southwestern India


Although bay owls are typically smaller, they bear resemblances to other barn owls.[1] Other characteristics of the bay owl are groupings of feathers that resemble ears, and a divided face disk.[1] Bay owls have also been attributed with U-or V-shaped faces.[1][3] Their wings are rounded and their tail is chestnut-colored, with a few narrow, dark bars.[6]  Their tarsi, or leg/foot bones, are relatively short and fully feathered to the joint.[3] Their toes are yellowish-brown with pale claws.[3] Their throat has a creamy color and their underparts are often a pale yellowish-brown, with speckles of blackish-brown coloring.[3]

Distribution and habitatEdit

The bay owl can be found in regions from India to Southeast Asia and Indonesia, as well as parts of central Africa.[1] It is uncertain where the ancestors of these avians lived as the phylogeny of all species of bay owls has not been analyzed.[7] These owls can be found in both forests and grasslands, but are fairly scattered in their distribution.[7] However, their primary habitat is within dense evergreen forests, where the owls may roost during the day in the opening of tree trunks or branches sheltered by palm tree leaves.[1] They are often found roosting no more than 2 meters off the ground.[1] They are most vulnerable in this state and not very alert.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Bay Owl". Owl Rescue. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  2. ^ Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Isidore (1830). "Remarques sur les charactères et la classification des oiseaux de proie nocturnes, et description d'un genre nouveau sous la nom de Phodilus". Annales des sciences naturelles (in French). 21: 194–203 [199].
  3. ^ a b c d e König, Claus & Weick, Friedhelm (2008). Owls of the World. London, UK: A & C Black. pp. 209, 230–233. ISBN 978-0-7136-6548-2.
  4. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 303. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Owls". World Bird List Version 7.3. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  6. ^ Lewis, Deane. "Oriental Bay Owl (Phodilus badius) - Information, Pictures, Sounds". The Owl Pages. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  7. ^ a b Uva, Vera; Päckert, Martin; Cibois, Alice; Fumagalli, Luca; Roulin, Alexandre (2018-08-01). "Comprehensive molecular phylogeny of barn owls and relatives (Family: Tytonidae), and their six major Pleistocene radiations". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 125: 127–137. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2018.03.013. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 29535030.

Further readingEdit

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