As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday 10 September 2018

ʻAlalā Doing Just Fine After Hurricane Lane Drenching

By Big Island Now
August 28, 2018, 1:49 PM HST (Updated August 28, 2018, 1:49 PM)
On the Big Island, in their forest home in the Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve on Hawai‘i Island, eleven ʻAlalā  (native Hawaiian crows) appear to have little difficulty following several days of heavy rains generated by Hurricane Lane. The critically endangered birds, the first to have been successfully released into the wild from conservation breeding facilities last fall, are among the creatures who experienced more than 30 inches of rain during the storm.
As soon as it was safe, staff from the San Diego Zoo Global’s Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program, a partner in The ʻAlalā Project, went into the field to check on the bird’s welfare. Dr. Alison Greggor, a post-doctoral research associate commented, “The Hawaiian forest is very resilient and, in that way, the ʻAlalā are also very resilient. Our team got out here as soon as it was safe, and they saw no ill effects on the birds. They weathered the storm very well.”  Department of Land and Natural Resources staff also accessed the site as soon as it was safe, to assess any damage to roads, infrastructure, and check the status of management actions. “Decades of intensive habitat management have made the reserve a unique ecosystem, home to some of the island’s rarest birds and plants”, said DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) Biologist, Jackie Gaudioso-Levita.
The reintroduction team describes the eleven birds as being quite hardy.  They’ve lived in the forest for almost a year, including through one entire winter.
“They survive very well in wet conditions and they’re able to fend for themselves.” said Dr. Greggor. “We’ve seen over time that the birds have gotten much better seeking shelter in the forest and finding natural nooks and crevices where they can hide from the rain.” She explained that for forest bird species, individuals that get really wet from prolonged rain can see ill effects when their body temperatures drop. ʻAlalā are known to be highly intelligent but the field team was thrilled that in spite of nearly three feet of rain over just four days, the birds remained unharmed.  This is encouraging news, among known impacts on wild and establishing populations in low numbers, where a single storm can prove to be decimating.

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