Created on Friday, 28 June 2013 16:33 Written by IVN
San Diego, California - Two `alalā (also known as Hawaiian crows) at the San Diego Zoo Global's Keauhou Bird Conservation Center represent the first chicks of this critically endangered species to be successfully raised by a parent in more than 25 years.
Hatched on 30th April and 1st May 2013 on the Big Island of Hawai`i, the chicks have passed an important survival marker - fledging. Newly feathered and beginning to fly, the birds represent a species that is extinct in the wild and is being managed through a collaborative effort as the Hawai`i Endangered Bird Conservation Program (HEBCP).
For just over six weeks, the chicks were cared for by their mother, enabling them to rapidly develop from small, naked, blind nestlings into fully-feathered youngsters, almost the size of an adult. On 13th June 2013, both chicks took the bold step of jumping out of their nest.
"It has been nerve-racking watching these chicks on camera. We had no idea whether Po Mahina would be a good mother. Fortunately her maternal instincts kicked in straight away and we are absolutely delighted that the chicks have successfully fledged," said Rosanna Leighton, Research Coordinator at KBCC. "We also have another female raising a chick a few weeks younger, still in the nest."
The last `alala were recorded in their Hawaiian forest natural habitat in 2002 where they were threatened by habitat destruction, introduced predators and avian disease. The HEBCP has been working with the species in captivity since 1993, bringing the population from a low of only 20 individuals to more than 110. Until this year artificial incubation and hand-rearing were used as a strategy to maximize breeding success.