Grallistrix auceps (Olson & James)

Kauai Stilt-Owl (Grallistrix auceps)  

The Kaua’i Stilt-Owl is one of four species of the so-called stilt-owls, that were formerly endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.  

These owl species had elongated legs and may have had a rather terrestrial lifestyle, their wings were somewhat abbreviated, but they were still able to fly.  

In prehistoric times (before the arrival of the first Polynesians) the stilt-owls were the main predators of smaller bird species on the Hawaiian Islands – in fact most of the now extinct Hawaiian bird species are known from bones that were extracted from subfossil owl pellets found at ancient owl roosting sites.  

The stilt-owls were probably ground-breeding birds, as it is indicated by several subfossil findings, thus, their eggs were perhaps an easy meal for the Pacific Rats (Rattus exulans (Peale)), that had been introduced by the first Polynesian settlers.  


All species, including the Kauai Stilt-Owl, are known from subfossil bones alone.  



[1] Storrs L. Olson & Helen F. James: Descriptions of thirty-two new species of birds from the Hawaiian Islands: Part I. Non-Passeriformes. In: Ornithological Monographs 45. 1991


edited: 17.10.2020