University of Hawai'i - West O'ahu

Hoo’s That: Pueo Protocol

Hawai‘i has two species of owls, the introduced barn owl and the Hawaiian owl or Pueo. Can you tell the difference between the two?

The Owls

Hawaiʻi has two species of owl, the introduced barn owl and the Hawaiian owl or Pueo. The barn owl is seen regularly on all islands. It is active at dusk and at night and is the main owl seen at Ka‘ena Point. Many people confuse the Pueo with the barn owl but there are distinct differences. The barn owl is slightly larger with lighter colored feathers whereas the Pueo is smaller and darker.

Hoo's That figure comparing Na Pueo with the Barn Owl

Pueo nest on the ground in tall grass habitats and hunt over agricultural fields, open spaces and forests. Like most owls, barn owls hunt during the night and are particularly fond of hunting in grasslands or edges along dirt roads where rodents and insects are easily found. Both owls have a “radar shaped” face and excellent vision allowing them to use both sound and sight to locate prey. Barn owls can be heard screeching as they hunt at night. Both owls are carnivorous and eat small rodents and insects. Barn owls were brought to Hawaiʻi in the 1950’s as a way to control rodents. They are very common, and if you see an owl in Hawaiʻi, it is most likely a barn owl.

Action Plan

UHWO is monitoring the Pueo in and around the campus and will report to Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) any sightings of ground nesting of the Pueo.

To date, there has been no sightings of ground nesting Pueo in and around the UH West O‘ahu campus.

What’s Been Done

An avifaunal and feral mammal survey was conducted as part of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that was prepared for the entire 500-acre UH West Oʻahu property. No native land birds were recorded during this survey. However, claims have been made of Pueo (the Hawaiian Owl) sightings in the region, and we need your help with monitoring such sightings.

If You See a Pueo

If you see a pueo nesting on the ground around the UH West Oʻahu campus, please report it to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration at (808) 689-2500.

The Pueo Project

The Pueo Project is a collaboration with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, with support from the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Our project investigates the population size, distribution and habitat use of Hawaiian Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus sandwichensis) or Pueo on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Find out more at

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