Overview and Distribution

The Oriental Bay Owl (Phodilus badius) is a type of bay owl, usually classified with barn owls in the Order Strigiformes and Family Tytonidae. It is completely nocturnal, and can be found throughout Southeast Asia and parts of India. It has several subspecies. It has a heart-shaped face with earlike extensions.

The Congo Bay Owl (Phodilus prigoginei) was formerly classified as a subspecies of Oriental Bay Owl due to insufficient knowledge, but it has turned out that it might not even belong to the same genus. The Sri Lanka Bay Owl was also considered a subspecies.

Oriental Bay Owl
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  • Continents: Asia
  • Coutries: China, India, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam
  • Biogeographycal Realms: Indomalayan

The Oriental Bay Owl is typically found and distributed throughout Nepal, Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Burma and Thailand, east to south China, and south through the Malay Peninsula to the Greater Sundas. They are most comfortable living in woodland, plantations and mangrove swamps at altitudes of up to 7,220 feet (2200 meters), leading to them being scattered around India, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia.

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In Vietnam, you can see easily the Oriental Bay Owl in Cat Tien National Park, Tan Phu, Đinh Quan, Di Linh, and Da Lat province. Besides, There are a total of 18 species of Owls in Vietnam, they are mainly nocturnal, so finding them becomes even more difficult. Requires your perseverance and a little more luck.

The Oriental Bay Owl is very scarcely known, even in its area of origin. It is prevalent in the tropical moist forests as well as in Southeast Asia. The species can be seen in the tropical wet evergreen forest as high altitudes reaching heights of 1,040-1,050m above sea level. These sightings of the owl are rare and occurred between February and June 1998 in Sengaltheri, Tamil Nadu, India.Also located in the evergreen forest of India.

There are not many in the population, and so they are not very well known. Their habitat is in two separate locations in India: northern in the Himalayan foothills and that general location, and in the southern areas, including the Southern Western Ghats of Kerala/Tamil Nadu, as well as some areas of Sri Lanka (specifically the wetlands).

This owl tends to be nocturnal and stays to itself.This owl tends to reside at high elevations ranging from 200m to a peak of 2300m according to area in which it lives. At the foothills it tends to stay at areas between 200–1,000m elevation, but due to destruction of many of the foothills/ forests in the area (caused by mankind), some of the owls reside at higher altitudes reaching the peak of 2,300m in montane forests.

Habits and Nuitrition

The Oriental Bay Owls prey upon small rodents, bats, birds, snakes, frogs, lizards, magpies and large arthropods such as beetles, grasshoppers, and spiders. This species hunts from a perch and fly through trees in order to catch their prey. Due to their short and rounded wings, this makes hunting easier, especially by the water. Being that the owls find themselves most comfortable in Southeast Asia and parts of India, they are surrounded by a very humid and tropical climate. This offers the species an immense food source and trees to hunt from. The Owl feeds its young an assortment of rodents, lizards and frogs when caring for them.


The Oriental Bay Owl is small owl with a distinctive, highly angular head. Dark chestnut above and pale creamy gray below with light spotting on the sides. Dark eyes are emphasized by the general paleness of the face and the vertical dark ridges above them which form into small rounded tufts. Typically stands quite upright, giving it a heavy-headed appearance. Small and often difficult to find but can be common in a wide range of habitats, including evergreen forests and mangroves.

Orental Bay Owl
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Vocalizations are variable, and include rasps, screams, inflected gulping hoots, and a high-pitched mellow whistled song with the first few notes downslurred and the last few notes upslurred, which can be likened to “hii-huu-huu-huwee-huwee-huwee”.

Breeding Habits of Oriental Bay Owl

This species is caring towards their offspring; both the male and female care for their young. Incubation lasts for approximately 36–42 days and there is usually a 100 percent survival rate for the zygote. The babies are quick to develop and are protected by both parents. They are more protective of the nestlings (young chicks) than of the older chicks. They feed their offspring an assortment of lizards, frogs, rodents and on occasion, insects.

Breeding time is usually from the months of March, April and May. The eggs tend to be laid between March and July. They tend to nest in hollowed out tree trunks as well as any other hole it can find. They can sometimes be found nesting in palms in Java. As mentioned above, both parents care for the offspring. At a time, around 3 to 5 eggs are laid; the appearance of the eggs are white and rather small.

The measurements of the eggs on the oblong portion are around 38–40.6mm and on the smaller portion of the egg, the circumference is approximately 30–31 mm. Although both parents care for the offspring, only the mother incubated the egg starting at the 2 day mark. The father is the one who hunts and brings nourishment back for the offspring.

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Population trend: Stable

Population status: Least concern (LC)

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