island conservation hawaiian crows fly free

Extinct-in-the-wild Hawaiian Crow Will Soon Fly Free

Hawaiian Crows, also known as Alalā, will soon be released back into their native Hawaiian habitat after a 14-year process of captive breeding.

Conservation biologists only want the best for the Hawaiian Crow, also known as Alalā. Protecting the Hawaiian Crow includes providing adequate habitat for their reintroduction to the Hawaiian forest. The species has been Extinct-in-the-wild since 2002, but following years of careful conservation efforts, the Hawaiian Crow will soon be released back into its native habitat.


Hawaiian Crow or Alalā. Photo Credit: USFWS.

Just over 100 individuals are currently alive in captivity, five of which are thriving in an aviary at the Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve where they are acclimating to the area before they can be released. This reserve has been protected to conserve native flora and fauna and is an ideal location for the species reintroduction.

Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, project coordinator of the ‘Alalā Project, said:

Decades of intensive management by the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, in stewardship with local conservation partners, 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.

The birds were originally set to be released in October, but this was postponed to ensure the future success of the species. Researchers needed more time to perfect the transmitting devices that will track the birds once they are released. Bryce Masuda, the conservation project manager for the Hawai’i Endangered Bird Conservation Program commented:

It is important for us to track these birds once they go out into the forest so that we can continue to support them as they explore their new home.


Photo Credit: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Global.

This much anticipated return to the wild will have a very positive effect on the Hawaiian forest where the Alalā eat and disperse the seeds of native plant species and are considered a crucial part of the ecosystem’s biodiversity. Returning the Hawaiian Crow to its native habitat is an important step in conserving not only this incredible bird, but also Pu‘u Maka‘ala’s ecosystem.

Featured photo: Hawai’i Landscape. Credit: Mr. Erin Keoni Akamine
Source: Big Island Now


About Emily Heber

Emily is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Zoology. As a student, she discovered that she had a passion for the conservation of endangered species and their ecosystems. Her background in informal education has allowed her the opportunity to share her passion for animals with others, something she seeks to continue doing while working with the communication team. In her spare time, Emily enjoys exploring the amazing hiking trails found in Santa Cruz and tries to SCUBA dive whenever possible. Emily is excited to join the Island Conservation team and to help share the amazing work that is being done here.

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