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What to do if you find a Pueo Owlet

First of all, it is important to know which species is in front of our eyes.

Pueo Owlet

Barn Owlet

Pueo Owlet

Dark mask, yellowish eyes and dark overall

Barn Owlet

Dark eyes and whitish overall

It is important to note that young Pueo or Short-eared Owls usually leave the nest long before they are ready to fly and there is actually no point in placing such birds back in the nest.


From approx. ½ to ¾ grown owlets leave the nest, and they walk, jump and flutter in the surrounding area. The adults locate them and will feed them anywhere. It is very likely that the owlet you have is perfectly okay and if it is left where it is, or returned to the same spot, it will be fed by the adults. So unless it's in a dangerous location or it has fallen into a place that cannot be reached by the adults, keep in mind the following points.

  • In almost all cases, by far the best thing is to leave an owlet where it was found.

  • (Or take it back there – It is very important to remember or find out exactly where the owlet was picked up.)

  • Unless there is something definitely wrong with the owlet, it is far better off remaining ‘in the wild’.

  • It is not the best thing for an owlet to be hand reared and released later.

  • It is perfectly natural for part-grown Short-eared Owls to be out of the nest before they can fly.

  • Adult Short-eared Owls will feed their young wherever they are – even on the ground.

  • An owlet will not be rejected by its parents because it’s been handled by humans – they have very little sense of smell.

  •  You must not keep the owl overnight unless absolutely necessary. It must be returned to the wild the same day and before dusk.

In case you really find necessary to pick up the owlet.... see contact details at "What to do if you find an injured Pueo".

In Hawai’i it is against the law to keep any wildlife without appropriate rehabilitation permits, even if you plan on releasing them.

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