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The Pueo

Hawaiian Owl (Asio flammeus sandwicensis)

     The Short-eared Brown Owl, also known as the Hawaiian Owl or Pueo, is endemic to Hawai'i and precedes the arrival of the early Hawaiians. The Hawaiian dictionary provides many meanings and connotations for the word. Pueo doesnÌt signify only an owl, but also a taro variety, the staff of life. In addition it indicates shortness, the shroud of a canoe, and the rocking of a child.

     The pueo is considered a sacred creature, having a special place in Hawaiian mythology, and is recognized as a kinolau (physical manifestation) of 'aumakua (ancestral guardians). It was believed in ancient Hawai'i that following the death of an individual, the spirit of that individual could still influence and protect the remaining family members through the use of a body such as that of an owl, shark, turtle or other animal. As an 'aumakua, the pueo is often attributed as a protector or guardian, and was specifically skilled in battle. In legends and stories, the pueo is credited with providing guidance and direction, and as in other cultures, is recognized as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.


Photo provided by Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Environmental Education Center


References:

Mahalo to Robin Racoma, KS Graphic Designer, for designing the stylized owl face icon used for our logo and banner.

 
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