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Hawaiian Hawk: Wikis


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Hawaiian Hawk
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes (or Accipitriformes, q.v.)
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Buteo
Species: B. solitarius
Binomial name
Buteo solitarius
(Peale, 1848)

The Hawaiian Hawk or ʻIo, Buteo solitarius, is a raptor of the Buteo genus endemic to Hawaiʻi. Buteos tend to be easily recognized by their bulky bodies relative to their overall length and wingspan. The ʻIo is the only hawk that is native to Hawaiʻi, and fossil evidence indicates that it inhabited the island of Hawaiʻi, Molokaʻi, Oʻahu, and Kauaʻi at one time.[1] Today, it is only known to breed on the Big Island in stands of native ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) trees. The species is protected as an endangered species in the United States. However, the IUCN classifies the species as Near Threatened.



The Hawaiian Hawk measures approximately 40 to 46 centimetres (16 to 18 in) in length. The female is larger than the male. Two color phases exist: a dark phase (dark brown head, breast, and underwings), and a light color phase (dark head, light breast and light underwings). Feet and legs are yellowish in adults and greenish in juveniles.


Common threats to the ʻIo are illegal shootings, the degradation of their native forest habitat, poisoning, vehicle collisions, starvation, and predation from other animals.


This solitary hawk remains in and defends its territories year round. They nest from March through September, and usually lay only one egg but sometimes they could lay up to three in their clutch. The female does the majority of sitting during the 38 days of incubation, while the male does the majority of the hunting. After the egg is hatched, the female only allows the male to visit when delivering food to the nest. The chick fledges at seven or eight weeks. Fifty to seventy percent of the nests successfully fledge young.

The ʻIo usually hunts from a stationary position, but can also dive on prey from the air. It feeds on rats, small birds, stream animals, crickets, praying mantises, millipedes, centipedes, and occasionally worms. It will also feed on the Hawaiian Crow, another one of Hawaii's endangered birds. They are opportunistic predators and are versatile in their feeding habits. They have a shrill and high-pitched call much like their Hawaiian name: "eeeh-oh." They are very noisy during the breeding season. ʻIo are strong fliers.

The Hawaiian hawk was a royal symbol in Hawaiian legend, and it is sometimes called “ʻIolani,” or “Exalted Hawk”, which was the name of Kamehameha IV and the ʻIolani Palace.


  1. ^ "ʻIo" (PDF). Hawaii’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. State of Hawaiʻi. 2005-10-01.!.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-20.  

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