ʻIo (Hawaiian Hawk)

Hawaiian hawk flying in the sky.

NPS Photo/J. Wei


Ka ʻio nui maka lana au moku.....
The great ʻio with eyes that see everywhere on the land.

In the sky, we notice a distant screeching sound leading us to a tiny circling dot—a bird, likely the ‘io or Hawaiian hawk (Buteo solitarius), the sole hawk species native to Hawaiʻi. In Hawaiian culture, they revere these majestic birds as family protectors known as ʻaumākua.

The endemic ‘io, once potentially distributed throughout the Hawaiian chain, now exclusively inhabits the Island of Hawaiʻi. Although once listed as endangered, its populations are rebounding. Adults, measuring between 15 and 20 inches tall, frequently circle above areas near the summit of Kīlauea and along Mauna Loa Road. Females, larger than males, form lasting bonds. Pairs perform acrobatic mating dances during winter and spring, with females laying eggs between March and July. Fledglings born in summer soar across the caldera floor, searching for food throughout the park high in the sky, covering miles of lands in seconds.

Listen for the ‘io, and you might be fortunate enough to see one. These raptors have a range of 2,375 square miles on Hawai’i Island, which covers over half of the island.

Frequently Asked Questions


Movement Patterns of the Endangered Hawaiian Hawk

To document movement patterns and habitat use of Hawiian Hawks, GPS tags were attached to 17 individuals to track their movement across continuous, fragmented, and urban landscapes. The Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center are now gathering multi-year tracking data to assess key aspects of habitat needs, and how these birds navigate through different ecosystems.

Last updated: April 25, 2024

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 52
Hawaii National Park, HI 96718


808 985-6011

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