Good Morning, Pueo!

In those darkest moments before the dawn, I take my bags out to the van and go back inside to make my coffee and grab something to eat. When I first step outside of the house, the cats mew and purr and slip in between my legs, sibling cats that move like koi toward their bowls of food in the kitchen.

This morning when I stepped outside the gate I noticed something flying toward me from across the street. A Hawaiian owl, pueo, silently flew over me. It was magnificently glowing under the street lamp, and for a few seconds we connected. I quietly said, “good morning!” So gentle and comforting. It was as though a soft and feathery blanket embraced my soul and whooshed away all the doubts that dig into my psyche so much these days.

I’m not Hawaiian, but I’ve lived in Hawaii since 1981. I know about ‘aumakua, ancestral guardians of Hawaiian families, embodied in owls, sharks, turtles, and other creatures great and small. I don’t claim to have a protector, but I will always appreciate the special place and value these creatures have in Hawaiian culture.

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 is recognized as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge in many cultures. Here’s a lovely reference to it on the website aboutmauinui.comThis photo shows a pueo flying on the Big Island during the day, but I saw mine in darkness. I just wanted you to get an idea.

My heart and soul were overjoyed for the gift of this rare sighting in the dark and quiet morning. Mahalo, sweet pueo, for your quiet assurance and comfort. Maybe you were just a barn owl, but for me, it was still a treat.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


  1. Barn owls are beautiful, too. When we had seen owls in the past at night or dusk, I had thought they were pueo until the late, great Stanley Yamashita told me pueo were day owls. Then we saw an owl flying in broad daylight on Lana’i. Ah, so that was a pueo! The barn owl, being an introduced species, wasn’t endowed with mythology the way the pueo was. Feh! Having a big, silent-flying bird of prey in our midst here on the edge of the suburbs is a treat. I’m introduced, too. A barn owl can be my ‘aumakua any day.

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