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HAWAIIAN HAWK } Buteo solitarius

RANGE: Hawaii Island

STATUS: The Hawaiian hawk is classified as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

THREATS: Habitat loss, illegal shootings, poisoning, vehicle collisions, starvation, predation

This bulky-bodied, solitary raptor is the only hawk native to Hawaii, a royal symbol in Hawaiian legend and sometimes called “ʻIolani,” or “Exalted Hawk,” which was a title given in the 19th century to Kamehamaha IV, the fourth king of Hawaii. Fossil evidence shows the Hawaiian hawk once lived on the Hawaii, Molokai, Oahu and Kauai islands, but it’s now only known to breed on the Big Island in stands of native ʻōhiʻa lehua trees. This bird is a strong flier and usually hunts from a stationary position, but it can also dive from the air to capture prey, which includes rats, small birds, stream animals and invertebrates. The greatest threat to this majestic bird is the conversion of its forest habitat for urban, agricultural, industrial and business uses.

Photo courtesy National Park Service