Yesterday, I saw an unusual bird flying elegantly near the Poipu Beach Park. As I watched it carefully, I found out it was a Barn Owl which looked like human face. The reason why it was named as "Barn owl" is said to be because this owl could make a nest in the barn where people live near by.
On the other hand, Japanese call it "Men-fukurou" which literally means "Mask Owl." "Men" or "O-Men" in Japanese means "Mask" and "Fukurou" means "Owl." I thought Japanese naming sounded better description of this owl but there are actually so many other common names listed in the Wikipedia and all names seem to have good descriptions and good reason.
Common names for Barn Owl are silent flight, white owl, silver owl, demon owl, ghost owl, death owl, night owl, rat owl, church owl, cave owl, stone owl, monkey-faced owl, hissing owl, hobgoblin owl, hobby owl, dobby owl, white-breasted owl, golden owl, scratch owl, straw owl, barnyard owl, and delicate owl.
According to the book titled "A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hawai'i," Barn Owls were introduced in the late 1950s in the efforts to control rats in the plantation fields. Just like a word "night owl", they are usually night predator and very active at night but occasionally it can be seen hunting during daylight hours. They are good at catching rodents but they also prey on small birds. I don't know if this owl comes to the same place again, but I will probably go there again to photograph this barn owl with my bigger lens.
Interestingly, owl in general is said to be wise creature of the forest and it represents "wisdom" in western countries while some countries including Japan regarded owl as bad omen. However, nowadays owl is getting to be known as good luck in Japan because a Japanese word "Fukurou(owl)" can be read as "Fu (Never)Kurou(Hardship)." Also it can be understood as "Fuku(happy)rou(man)." Therefore some items related to "owl" such as key folder or good luck charm, can be found in many products in Japan.
In Hawaii, Hawaiian native owl called "Pueo" has been regarded as a sacred spiritual bird which is one of the various physical forms assumed by 'aumakua (ancestor spirits) in its culture. I've seen Pueo one time during Bon Dance at West Kauai Hongwanji Hanapepe Temple. Is it just happening? Pueo showed up there during Bon Dance where many spirits of ancestors get together!