Pueo identified in areas at JBPHH

Javier Cotin, PhD, of UH/DOWFA with the first Pueo banded at JBPHH. NAVFAC Hawaii photos by Corrina Carnes

Don Robbins

Editor, Ho‘okele

Pueo, or the Hawaiian short-eared owl (Asio flammeus sandwichensis), is a subspecies of the short-eared owl that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and that has been identified at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH).

Pueo forage (primarily on rodents) mostly during the day and are known to nest on the ground — not in trees, according to Rebecca Smith, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii natural resource manager for JBPHH.

Smith said that historically, there were four native owls before the Polynesian arrival. However, Pueo arrived after the Polynesians. Additionally, the local barn owl (Tyto alba) was introduced in 1958 and now directly competes with the Pueo for habitat and food.

Corrina Carnes, Natural Resources field biologist, prepares to release the Pueo.

According to Smith, Pueo are not federally listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. However, they are listed as “endangered” on Oahu by the state of Hawaii. The population size of Pueo on Oahu is unknown but is thought to be declining due to introduced predators such as rats and mongoose, as well as loss of nesting and foraging habitat, Smith added.

JBPHH Natural Resources biologists have been monitoring JBPHH lands for the presence of Pueo.

“Our overall goal is to develop a Pueo survey methodology, to identify survey locations on JBPHH that provide suitable habitat for Pueo, to conduct initial population/detection counts of Pueo and to ultimately establish best practices for management of this natural resource,” Smith said.

“Thus far, we have successfully identified Pueo in areas on JBPHH. Our field biologists have expanded our effort to also collaborate with state and federal partners who are also studying and documenting Pueo on Oahu,” Smith said.

“Alongside our USFWS (U.S Fish and Wildlife Service) and UH/DOFAW (University of Hawaii/ Division of Forestry and Wildlife) partners we recently were able to band a Pueo on Navy land,” Smith said. “This is an exciting opportunity and effort as we move towards potentially tracking these birds to learn more about their biology, breeding and feeding habits on JBPHH and Oahu as a whole. Overall, this study serves to help add to our knowledge of this bird and to best understand how to protect and promote this birds survival for future generations.”

At present there are two to four Pueo at Lualualei and researchers have documented two transitioning through the West Loch property.

The monitoring study began in March of 2017 and will conclude after collection of one full year of data. The next step will be to study a set population via a tracking study on Navy land to better understand its breeding biology.

Smith explained that the other species of owl present in Hawaii prior to the arrival of the Polynesians most likely died out over time due to natural factors, such as lack of prey. In reference to the Pueo it is generally accepted that they arrived at or after the arrival of the Polynesians.

To report dead or injured wildlife on the installation, please call the Natural Resources duty phone JBPHH, Oahu at 772-7285 and Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai at 208-4416.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS

Category: News