Pueo in a Koa Tree
20 inches x 24 inches
Oil on Canvas
The Hawaiian Short Eared Owl, “Pueo” in the Hawaiian language is a beautiful and meaningful bird. In Hawaiian culture there is the concept of an ʻaumakua, a protective spirit of a family member or ancestor who watches over the family in the form of an animal. The charismatic Pueo is often chosen as a form for an ʻaumakua, and a special spiritual bond is formed if a family notices unusual pueo sightings around the time of passing of a loved one. Sightings of the pueo on some islands (including Oʻahu) are extremely rare. Any nighttime sightings are probably barn owls instead of pueo which are not nocturnal like other owls. These owls are active during the day. I have had the rare pleasure of seeing two over my decade living on Oahu, which might not sound like much, but that’s actually pretty good. They are rare and it was unforgettable!
In this painting, the pueo is perched in a koa tree, one of the most iconic and important of the trees making up the Hawaiian forests. It used to be very common, but the beauty of its wood has made it a prized hardwood. It is important that we use forestry to assure that the koa survives our admiration for its beauty.