POSTED: 1 DECEMBER 2005 - 3:30pm HST

Pueo Owl: The Protector

Click below hear owl call. The image is "Pueo" by Michael Furuya

Birds and Plants of Kauai:
Pueo: The Hawaiian Owl

The Pueo, or Hawaiian Owl, is a subspecies of the short-eared owl. The scientific name is Asio flammeus sandwichensis. It is an endemic species, which evolved in the Hawaiian islands and is not found naturally elsewhere. There is no fossil record of the Pueo before the Polynesians arrived here. That may be because the early Polynesians created a habitat that was suited for colonization by the Pueo.

The Pueo was revered by the ancient Hawaiians. It is the aumakua, or ancestral guardian, of many Hawaiian families, and was associated with skill in battle. An encounter with the Pueo is considered to be an omen.

The Pueo’s favorite habitat is open grasslands, fields and pastures; although they are sometimes found in lowland forests. They eat rodents and insects, and sometimes small birds. They are often seen hunting at dawn and sunset, hovering over their prey before diving down for the kill.

This owl nests right on the ground, in grassy areas. The Pueo lays three to six eggs over a few months, and the eggs hatch at different times. The young nestlings are vulnerable to feral cats.

The Pueo is a smaller owl, with yellow eyes and a round dark facial disk, and is 13-17 inches long. The only other owl found on Kauai is the Barn Owl, an introduced species, which has dark eyes and a heart shaped lighter facial disk, is usually larger than the Pueo, and hunts at night.

Look for the Pueo near Kilauea Point, from Kaumakani to Mana, and along lower Kokee road. We have seen them at Puolo Point near Salt Pond, and on the road to Poli Hale.

The glrassland of Puolo Point, near Salt Pond Beach Park, is home to several pueo owls

First light
beside a tall palm
pueo hovers

schar 6/25/05

The Birds of Kauai, by Jim Denny, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu

For more on Hawaiian Nature see below:
Island Breath: Hawaiian Nature Menu
The Flora and Fauna of Hawaii
2 November 2005 - 10:30pm

Puhoehoe: Beach Morning-Glory It is a hardy, salt water resistant plant which is widespread in Hawaii
16 January 2006 - 12:00pm

Nui: The Coconut Tree This valuable plant was used for food, drink, thatching material, and fiber


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