The San Diego Zoo announced Tuesday that its researchers in Hawaii released seven ‘alala, a critically endangered species also known as the Hawaiian crow, into the wild earlier this month.
Researchers at the zoo’s Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program and their partners with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the birds into the Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve on Mauna Loa.
The three entities launched a partnership two years ago known as the ‘Alala Project to reintroduce the species back into the wild. The team released five males and two females into the reserve to join other groups of ‘alala already living in the area. Roughly 20 birds now live in the reserve’s forests despite the species once being extinct in the wild.
“Recovering threatened and endangered species is bigger than any one community or agency: it takes everyone working together,” said Michelle Bogardus, a geographic team leader in Hawaii with the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The research and conservation group documented multiple pairs of `alala showing breeding and courtship behaviors, including birds that were first released in 2017. The ‘Alala Project members expect the species’ recovery to take many more years, but say they are already seeing positive signs.
“‘Alala form complex bonds as breeding pairs and must work together to build their nests,” said Alison Greggor, a research associate with the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program. “Having released ‘alala engage in the full suite of breeding and nest- building behaviors in their first season as adults represents a huge step forward for the program, and their recovery as a species.”
— City News Service