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Albertine Owlet Glaucidium albertinum
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Vulnerable because it has a very small population (being known from only four widely separated locations) that is severely fragmented and probably declining, given the continuing clearance and degradation of its forest habitat.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
BirdLife International's treatment of Glaucidium capense currently includes ngamiense and scheffleri, contra Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993) but recognises castaneum and albertinum as separate species contra Dowsett and F

Glaucidium passerinum Collar and Andrew (1988)

20 cm. Small, large-headed owl with no "ears". Rounded head heavily spotted with white. Mantle/back not barred. Barred breast. Spotted belly and flanks. Pale yellow eyes. Similar spp. African Barred Owlet G. capense is less intensely coloured, with barred head and mantle/back. Voice Not certainly described.

Distribution and population
Glaucidium albertinum is known from just 3-5 specimens, collected in the Itombwe Mountains (two specimens) and in forest west of Lake Edward (two at relatively low altitude [1,100 m], and originally identified as G. capense castaneum [Prigogine 1953] may need re-examination; F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2000), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as in Nyungwe Forest (one), Rwanda. There is also a recent sight record from Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, west of Lake Kivu (DRC). It may be fairly common in parts of Itombwe (T. Butynski in litt. 1999) - as a nocturnal species, it may have been under-recorded by past ornithological surveys.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be declining in line with the clearance and degradation of forest within the species's range.

This bird is found in very open montane and transitional forest, with many clearings and a dense understorey, and probably occurs up to 2,500 m at least (based on a Glaucidium sp. heard calling at this altitude at Nyungwe, almost certainly G. albertinum; Dowsett-Lemaire 1990). The diet includes invertebrates. Its breeding ecology is unknown (Butynski et al. 1997).

Deforestation and forest degradation are the most likely threats throughout its range. Forest in the Itombwe Mountains and Kahuzi-Biéga National Park is under increasing pressure from pastoralists, farmers, pit-sawyers, miners and hunters (Hall et al. 1998; Omari et al. 1999). The human population in this volatile area is increasing rapidly and thousands of refugees from Burundi and Rwanda live in camps at the base of Itombwe's eastern escarpment and to the north (Hall et al. 1998; Omari et al. 1999). Clearance for agriculture, particularly along the southern and western edges of gallery montane forest, has increased dramatically in the past few years as maize crops have failed, causing famine (Butynski et al. 1997). In contrast, reports suggest that there has been very little encroachment at Nyungwe in recent years, due to the conflict-related emigration of local people (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2000).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It occurs in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park and Nyungwe Forest Reserve. Itombwe Forest has recently been gazetted as a community reserve, although the boundaries still need to be defined (A. Plumptre in litt. 2007). Other parts of the Itombwe Mountains are not protected. Conservation Actions Proposed
Reassess its taxonomic status. If the taxon is confirmed as a species, survey its distribution and status within the projected range, once the security situation permits this. Once a baseline population estimate has been obtained, continue to monitor population trends as long as the security situation is conducive. Monitor the loss and degradation of habitat within its range. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status.

Butynski, T. M.; Agenonga, U.; Ndera, B.; Hart, J. F. 1997. Rediscovery of the Congo Bay (Itombwe) Owl Phodilus prigoginei. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 4(1): 32-35.

Collar, N. J.; Stuart, S. N. 1985. Threatened birds of Africa and related islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F. 1990. Eco-ethology, distribution and status of Nyungwe Forest birds, Rwanda. In: Dowsett, R.J. (ed.), Enquête faunistique et floristique dans la Forêt de Nyungwe, Rwanda, pp. 31-85. Tauraco Press, Ely, U.K.

Hall, J. S.; Saltonstall, K.; Inogwabini, B.-I.; Omari, I. 1998. Distribution, abundance and conservation status of Grauer's gorilla. Oryx 32: 122-130.

Omari, I.; Hart, J. A.; Butynski, T. M.; Birnashirwa, N. R.; Upoki, A.; M'Keyo, Y.; Bengana, F.; Bashonga, M.; Baguruburnwe, N. 1999. The Itombwe Massif, Democratic Republic of Congo: biological surveys and conservation, with an emphasis on Grauer's gorilla and birds endemic to the Albertine Rift. Oryx 33: 301-322.

Prigogine, A. 1953. Contribution à l'étude de la faune ornithologique de la region à l'ouest du lac Edouard. Annales du Musée royal du Congo Belge 24: 1-117.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Butynski, T., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Plumptre, A.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Glaucidium albertinum. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Strigidae (Typical Owls)
Species name author Prigogine, 1983
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 32,500 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species