UPDATED 10:32 PM HST Aug 22, 2014
Critically endangered palila bird finds help
MAKAWAO, Hawaii —If you've never seen a palila up close and personal, now's your chance. The small songbird with a golden-yellow head and greenish wings are only found on the Big Island in the wild. But now, the colorful birds are on Maui.
"This is the first year we are breeding palila at the Maui Bird Conversation Center and we've produced five chicks this year," said San Diego Zoo Global Research Coordinator Josh Kramer.
Animal care staff at the conservation center artificially incubated eggs laid by a pair of palila and hand-reared the offspring.
"These birds are easy to fall in love with and that's what brings me to work everyday to avoid extinction of these animals," said Kramer. "These animals never been seen in the wild. We would like to see it the other way around and enjoy them for generations."
Palila are highly dependent on the mamane tree. That's where they consume unripe seeds. Right now, palila are found in less than 5 percent of their historic area. Why? Primarily due to the loss of native dryland forest habitat and that's why conservation centers are helping to boost the population.
The Hawaii endangered bird conservation program is a part of the San Diego Zoo institute for conservation research. The goal is to bring species back from the brink of extinction.