Kamakapueo: Eye of the Owl. The bright eyes of a Pueo lock onto activity surrounding its roost at the Hilo Zoo on Hawaii’s Big Island with a casual intensity.
This short-eared owl has a long-lived presence in Hawaii and is included in many stories and aural histories. Many Hawaiians claim the Pueo as their family ‘aumakua–an ancestor spirit manifesting as an animal, often being an omen, and guardian for the family.
The Pueo is endemic to Hawaii and, like many Hawaiian birds, has an ever-dwindling population. It nests on the ground and therefore its eggs and young are constantly threatened by mongoose and rats.