After 14 years of conservation, five Hawaiian Crow males are released back into the wild.
The Hawaiian Crow, or Alalā, has been Extinct-in-the-wild since 2002, but after years of conservation and captive breeding, five male crows have been released in the Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve on the Big Island last Wednesday.
These five birds have been housed in a temporary aviary within the reserve while researchers prepared for the release; this allowed them to acclimate to the habitat to which they were once native. Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager of the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program commented:
After being released, the ‘Alalā quickly adjusted to their new home, and began to search for and find food items in the forest…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.
The Alalā were released into the Natural Reserve which has been protected as a remaining parcel of the Hawaiian forest with native plants and species that were present when Hawaiian Crow populations began to decline. Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, project coordinator of the ‘Alalā Project explained:
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 Hawaii Island, known as Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve.
Releasing the Alalā back to their native habitat is expected to have a dramatic impact on the Hawaiian forest and aid in the recovery of this ecosystem. The birds play a crucial role in the forest as they eat and disperse seeds of native vegetation.
The release of these five birds is just one step towards a larger reintroduction. There are over 100 Alalā in the captive breeding program that will eventually have their day in the Hawaiian forests.
Check out amazing footage below of the birds exploring the wild!
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