The bay owls are barn owls of the genus Phodilus, subfamily Phodilinae.
Bay owls appear similar to other barn owls; they are generally smaller, have ear-like feather tufts, and have a more divided and U-shaped facial disk.
Most classification schemes recognize three species in this genus: the oriental bay owl (Phodilus badius), the Sri Lanka bay owl (Phodilus assimilis) and the Congo bay owl (Phodilus prigoginei).
P. prigoginei is not well known and was initially considered a subspecies of P. badius; today, however, it is not clear whether the African species would not be better placed in Tyto or a monotypic genus. It is similar to the other Phodilus species in being smaller than typical barn owls, and having the more U-shaped facial disk; however, the ear-like feather tufts are hardly visible.
An apparently extinct population from Samar Island might constitute a fourth species, but the only known specimen has been lost.