As one of, if not the most, common owl species in the Eastern hemisphere, this barn owl is as ubiquitous and widespread as deer in the United States and just as easily recognizable as well.
The Oriental Bay Owl is also known as an Asia bay owl, is a smallish owl that is found all over, as its name implies, in Asia, mostly located in South-East Asia and Indonesia.
For fifteen hard-to-acquire interesting facts about these endearing owls, from its conservation status to its predator habits and diet, as well as an easy way to identify and recognize them, continue reading on this article!
It Was Misidentified for Another Species
For the longest time, the Conga Bay Owl was confused for the Oriental Bay Owl, and vice versa, due to insufficient knowledge. The Conga Bay Owl, as the name suggests, is restricted to the Albertine Rift in Eastern Central Africa, and is not found anywhere in Asia.
However, the two different species should be easy for us even as layfolk to distinguish the two species apart because…
They Look like Bosmer Elves!
An easy way to remember the physical appearance of Oriental Bay Owls is remembering their resemblance to wood elves from the Elder scroll series, at least in Skyrim. Like all barn owls, they have a ridge across their face.
However, the Oriental Bay Owl possesses large, dark eyes that seem to stare into your soul. Notice how the Bosmer, or wood elf in Skyrim share the same barn owl features of a sharp beaked nose, the hard ridges across the face and those avian, pitch-black eyes.
With the Oriental Bay Owl’s heart-shaped face, as well as its ear-like extensions on the top of its head, one could say the resemblance is uncanny. Even the brown colors of the owl match the skin tone of the Bosmer!
A Whole Population of Oriental Bay Owls Went Extinct
On an island in the Philippines, to be precise. Samar Island used to have a population of Oriental Bay owls, who tragically were lost on a bombing raid during 1945, World War 2.
The species was described as Phodilus badius riverae. It was believed that this subspecies was possibly a unique one of Oriental Bay owls, but sadly no one will ever know whether the taxonomy was accurate or not (source: avibase.org).
This is not a unique circumstance where a certain species has been completely lost due to a World War, from canines to of course, birds.
It’s Conservation Status is of “Least Concern”
Despite the dismal fact you read about above, it’s That means it’s numerous, and unlikely to go away anytime soon!
The global population of Oriental Bay Owls in fact, is currently unquantified, so we don’t have an accurate estimate for how many there are populating the pockets of Asia, besides the estimate of “a whole frigging lot of ‘em.”
Since they have a large range as well as population, they neither qualify as the thresholds for being considered “Vulnerable” under population trend criterion or the population size criterion.
Considering how common and recognizable they are, from their nocturnal hootings at night to their even being raised as pets, it’s little wonder that these owls are quite capable of surviving and adapting with their current environment and climate.
Their Habitats Are Diverse
Oriental Bay Owls can inhabit anything from dense evergreen forests to jungle mangroves. They’re found in foothill forests to deciduous forests. As completely nocturnal birds, they roost during the day under the cover of palm leaves or a thick rattan branch.
They seem to prefer woodland habitats, mangrove swamps and plantations.
They range from North-Eastern and Southwestern India across Southern China, Vietnam, Myanmar, the Malay peninsula, Greater Sunda Islands, the Philippines and Indonesia.
There’s Five Subspecies Recognized So Far
As of this writing, there are five subspecies under the “Oriental Bay Owl” name. The five recognized subspecies of Phodilus badius are: P. b. Badius, also known as the Southeast Asian bay owl.
The P. b. Saturatus is also known as the Sikkim bay owl, and the P. b. Ripleyi is colloquially known as the Peninsular bay owl. The P. b. Arixuthus is simply known asNatuna , bay owl, and the P. b. Parvus is known as the Belitung bay owl.
They’re Easily Approachable When Asleep
When roosting, Oriental Bay Owls are considered “not alert,” and on top of that, they roost only around 6.5 feet from the ground to 16 feet, and thus are easily approachable. Perfect for those nocturnal photo shooters!
Just be sure not to be obnoxiously loud during your approach on these timid creatures, and to preserve the safety of both owl and human by being cautious of the height of the roost during approach and to not disturb the owl.
The Females Are Larger than the Males
Sexual dimorphism makes it slightly easier to distinguish genders among these owls than, say, cockatoos. Specifically, in regards to size. The female owls are slightly larger than the males.
They Can Have Up to Five Chicks Per Roost
Oriental bay owls can hatch and rear up to five chicks at one time, and tend to reuse nests as breeding grounds over several seasons.
They Have a Distinct Call
Southeastern Asians all over may be able to recognize the distinct song of the Oriental Bay Owl, which has been described as “eerie” and lasting from 2 to 8 seconds long with 2 notes per second, usually occurring in the early evening.
The diversity of their sounds include hootings, whistles, clicks to shrieks.
They Can Be Bought as Pets!
These birds can be bought and sold as pets. However, international trade is being regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and it is unlikely to be able to acquire one in the US easily.
As of this writing, prices for the Oriental Bay Owl are unlisted for English-using countries.
They Can be Trained to Do Tricks!
Now, logically if we realize a bird can be bought and sold as a pet, especially when it’s an animal as smart as an owl, then it can be taught to perform tricks. This video serves as evidence, as a man trains an adorable Oriental Bay Owl from chick to maturity using a variety of luring techniques.
They’re Strictly Carnivores
Oriental Bay Owls’ diet consist solely of meat, although they may swallow a rock or two to aid with the digestion in their gizzard.
Their diet consists of insects, smaller birds, bugs such as beetles to other small arthropods such as spiders, birds, reptiles, frogs and small mammals such as rodents.
One really interesting item on their menu are their nocturnal neighbors, bats, which they will nab if given the opportunity!
They Tend to Hunt Near Water
They rely on their keen sense of hearing as well as sight to locate prey in the dark, and are known to swoop from trees while doing so.
Interestingly, this species is also reported to prefer hunting near water. Whether this is due to development of some local specimens’ understanding and preference or the result of an innate understanding that prey dwell near water to survive, is yet unclear.
They’re Quite Sedentary
There’s very little migrating to do as an oriental bay owl. They tend to stay in the ranges they inhabit, and may only disperse as juveniles reaching maturity. Of course, movement occurs on the local level when on the hunt or for looking for a mate during breeding season.