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Hawaiian Name: Pueo
Common Name: Hawaiian Owl
Scientific Name: Asio flammeus sandwichensis

Size: Males 13 – 17 inches (33-43 cm) Wingspan: 41 inches (105 cm)

Habitat: Oceania. Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Pueo occupy a variety of habitats, including wet and dry forests, but are most common in open habitats such as grasslands, shrublands, and montane parklands, including urban areas and those actively managed for conservation.

Status: Endangered. Global population: unknown. They are strongly affected by light pollution. They are often killed in vehicular accidents in which they dive toward the headlights of cars, possibly in an attempt to hunt. Populations have dropped dramatically around newly-built roadways.

While the Pueo appears to be somewhat resistant to the avian malaria they have recently become victim to a mysterious "Sick Owl Syndrome", or SOS, in which large numbers of Pueo have been found walking dazedly on roads, leading to death by collision. The cause of Sick Owl Syndrome is unknown; it is suspected that pesticide toxicity may be responsible, particularly through secondary rodenticide poisoning. However, it has also been hypothesized that the cause may be an infectious agent, seizure-like confusion due to light pollution, or a variety of other causes.

Pueo nest on the ground, which makes their eggs and young susceptible to predation by the introduced Small Asian Mongoose and other predators, as well as by bulldozers. State listed as Endangered on O‘ahu.

Diet: Small mammals

Nesting: Females are slightly larger. Males perform aerial displays known as a sky dancing display to prospective females. Nests are constructed by females and are comprised of simple scrapes in the ground lined with grasses and feather down. Females also perform all incubating and brooding. Males feed females and defend nests. Chicks hatch synchronously and are fed by female with food delivered by male. Young may fledge from nest on foot before they are able to fly and depend on their parents for approximately two months.

Cool Facts: This taxon was first named by Andrew Bloxam (as the species Strix sandwichensis). He saw it in 1825 as the naturalist on board HMS Blonde. Later the owl was reclassified as a subspecies of the Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus).

Unlike most owls, Pueo are active during the day, and are commonly seen hovering or soaring over open areas. Their relatively recent establishment on Hawai‘i may have been tied to the rats (Rattus exulans) that Polynesians brought to the islands.

Pueo mean “huddled” or “crouched” in Hawaiian.

Found in Songbird ReMix Owl of the World Volume 2 and Songbird ReMix Hawai'i

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