In April, this year, a group of researchers set out for the Itombwe forest in eastern Zaire, an area known for its rare and fragile biodiversity. The team, whose trip was funded by New York's Bronx zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society, was treated to a brief encounter with the Congo bay owl. The bird was last seen in 1951. The Congo bay owl or Phodilus prigoginei, spotted, was about a foot tall and seemed to be a female. Its coat was a rich chestnut colour with white spots.