The Albertine owlet is very similar to the African barred owlet (Glaudicium capense) and is a small, large-headed owl with no “ears”. The head is heavily spotted with whitish flecks, the upper parts are maroon-brown and the mantle and back are not barred. The chin, throat and upper breasts are maroon with broad creamy bars, the rest of the underparts are off-white with dark chestnut spots, mainly on the flanks. The tail is brown with large white spots. Pale yellow eyes. The body length is 20 cm (7.9 in).
Distribution and habitat
The Albertine owlet is known from just a few specimens, two were collected in the Itombwe Mountains (two specimens) and two more in forest west of Lake Edward at 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) in altitude in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as one in Nyungwe Forest in western Rwanda. There has also been a sight record from Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, west of Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Albertine owlet occurs in very open montane forest and its ecotone where there are many clearings and a dense undergrowth, it probably occurs at elevations of up to 2,500 metres (8,200 ft).
Deforestation and forest degradation are the most likely threats within the range of the Albertine owlet. The forest in the Itombwe Mountains and Kahuzi-Biéga National Park is under increasing pressure from agricultural clearance and grazing, timber cutting, mining and hunting. The range lies within a conflict ridden region with thousand of refugees in camps but this also seems to have resulted in outward emigration, leaving areas depopulated as well. More needs to be known about the biology and status of this taxon.
Some authorities include the Albertine owlet as a subspecies of the African barred owlet but others, including Birdlife, treat it as a separate species.