Pueo - Hawaiian Owl - Asio flammeus sandwichensis

Length 1.1-1.4 ft (33.0-43.2 cm)
Weight 1-1.5 lb (453.6-680.4 g)
Chicks at birth Altricial
IUCN Conservation Status Not determined

The Pueo - Hawaiian Owl (Hawaiian Short-eared Owl) is a subspecies of Short-eared owls and endemic to Hawaii. It is believed that they after the Polynesians came to the Islands and may be tied to the rats that the Polynesians brought to the Islands. The Pueo is considered sacred by native Hawaiians. It brings good luck and protects the family.

Both sexes are similar. They are brown and buffy-white streaked with a darker brown. The legs and feet are feathered.

Pueo, unlike many owls, are active during the day. They are listed as an endangered species on Oahu and it is unclear how many there are on the other Islands. I was lucky to see one on the Island of Hawaii (Big Island).

One of the threats to the Pueo is something called "Sick Owl syndrome". What causes this is unclear, but it might be pesticide poisoning or insufficient food.

(For more information)

Diet: Puero mostly eat small mammals and insects. They hover above their prey before diving to capture it.

Courtship: To attract a female, the male will perform an aerial display known as sky dancing.

Nesting: The female constructs the nest which is a simple scrape on the ground and lined with grasses and feather down. This means that the eggs are vulnerable to predation by rats and mongooses. Three-six eggs are laid.

Females do all the incubating and brooding. The male will feed the female and defend the nest. Chicks are hatched asynchronously and are altricial (born with sparse down). The female will feed the chicks with food that the male provides.

Habitat and Range: Found throughout the main eight Hawaiian Islands, their range varies from sea level to 8,000 feet.

Vocalization: Will voice a muffled bark but mostly silent.

Plumage/Molt: No information.

Migration: Not a migrant.

Tongue/feet: No information.


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