Local family spots Hawaiian owl in mall parking lot

A trip to the mall turned out to be an unforgettable experience for an Oahu family.

Local designer Allison Izu Song and her family were driving on the second floor of Kahala Mall’s parking lot when they spotted something peculiar.

They weren’t quite sure what it was so they inched a little closer. Turns out, it was an owl!

Izu believes it was a pueo, or Hawaiian short-eared owl, which are endemic to Hawaii and considered endangered.

Unlike most owls, pueo are active during the day and are mostly seen hovering over open areas.

Song says to see one in the middle of a busy mall at night was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for her and her family.

“You can hear it in the background of the video. They were like freaking out and telling it to stay, but he kinda cruised around for a while and let us video him. I think it was one of those ‘lucky we live Hawaii’ moments. You get to see something amazing like that, and for my kids to experience it in the wild was a great experience,” Song said.

“It seems it was a pueo hunting. I don’t know why (it was) at the parking lot, (but) when it flew away, it had something in the claws,” said Javier Cotin of the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Department of Forestry and Wildlife. “Sometimes they move around the island, so it will be flying around, underneath it saw something that it was hunting for eating.”

Pueo are often mistaken for the common barn owl.

Barn owls are slightly larger with lighter colored feathers while the pueo is smaller and darker.

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