PUU MAKA’ALA, Hawaii Island – Five young ‘Alalā — the critically endangered Hawaiian crows that were extinct in the wild until today — were released into Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve on Dec, 14.
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources says the group of male birds took a few minutes to emerge from the aviary where they had been temporarily housed, and they appeared to show a natural curiosity for their surroundings.
“After being released, the ‘Alalā quickly adjusted to their new home, and began to search for and find food items in the forest,” said Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager of the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program. “Although the birds have now been released, we will continue to monitor them and provide appropriate supplemental food, to ensure they are supported as they encounter challenges.”
“Decades of intensive management by the Three Mountain Alliance watershed partnership have led to the preservation of some of the most intact native-dominated wet and mesic forest on windward Hawai‘i Island, known as Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve,” said Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, project coordinator of the ‘Alalā Project.
The ‘Alalā, or Hawaiian crow, has been extinct in the wild since 2002, conservationists say. They were preserved only at the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers managed by San Diego Zoo Global. With more than 100 individuals of the species now preserved at the centers, conservationists are ready to return the birds to their native forests.