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(Hawaiian Short Eared Owl)

Photo credit:

Fun Fact:

- Endemic subspecies of the nearly pandemic short-eared owl. The species is thought to have colonized the Hawaiian Islands sometime after the arrival of Polynesians.

- Unlike most owls, pueo are active during the day (i.e., diurnal), and are commonly seen hovering or soaring over open areas. 

- Males perform aerial displays known as a sky dancing display to prospective females. 

- Females also perform all incubating and brooding. Males feed females and defend nests


- Like short-eared owls in continental environments, those in Hawai‘i primarily consume small mammals. Their relatively recent establishment on Hawai‘i may have been tied to the rats that Polynesians brought to the islands. 


 - Found on all the Main Hawaiian Islands from sea level to 2,450 meters (8,000 feet). 

 - Pueo were widespread at the end of the 19th century, but are thought to be declining. 

- Pueo are likely susceptible to the same factors that threaten other native Hawaiian birds, including: loss and degradation of habitat, predation by introduced mammals, and disease.

- However, their persistence in lowland, non-native and rangeland habitats suggests that they may be less vulnerable to extinction than other native birds, especially because they may be resistant to avian malaria and avian pox. 


Barn Owl

Photo credit: Peter Trimming

Fun Fact:

Most owl sightings today are likely to be barn owls. Between 1958 and 1963, the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture and Forestry imported 86 barn owls to Hawai‘i Island, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i ­­to control rats in cane fields. The population took off and today this generalist predator is common on all the main Hawaiian Islands.

- Ghostly pale and strictly nocturnal, Barn Owls are silent predators of the night world. Lanky, with a whitish face, chest, and belly, and buffy upperparts, this owl roosts in hidden, quiet places during the day.

- Has excellent vision in low light levels, and hearing is so precise that it can strike prey in total darkness.


- Mostly rodents as well as native birds.


- Invasive, large population on the Hawaiian Islands.



(Hawaiian Hawk)

Photo credit:

Fun Fact:

-The ‘io is endemic to Hawai‘i and was a symbol of royalty in Hawaiian legend.

- The ‘io is the only hawk today native to Hawai‘i. They only breed on the Big Island but have been occasionally seen on Maui, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i.

- Fossil records indicate that this hawk may also been established on Moloka‘i and Kaua‘i.

- This graceful bird of prey measures 16 to 18 inches in length, the female being larger.

- They depend on native forest for nesting, but are able to use a broad range of habitats for foraging, including papaya and macadamia nut orchards, as well as forests dominated by native and introduced vegetation, from sea level to 6,500 feet elevation.


- It feeds on rodents, insects, small birds, and some game birds. They are opportunistic predators and are versatile in their feeding habits. 

- The ‘io usually hunts from a stationary position, but can also dive on prey from the air.


-The ‘io was listed as an endangered species in 1967 under the Federal Endangered Species Act because little was known about this species and raptors worldwide were experiencing significant declines.

 - Shooting, vehicle collisions; poisoning; starvation; and predation by dogs, cats, and mongoose are documented sources of mortality.


References and further reading