First ‘alala chick of 2016 hatches

The Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program is celebrating the first ‘alala to be born in 2016.

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The Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program is celebrating the first ‘alala to be born in 2016.

Later this year, hatched ‘alala chicks will go back to their native forests on the Big Island.

The native crow species has been extinct in the wild since 2002, preserved only in the program operated by San Diego Zoo Global at its Hawaiian bird centers.

“This first hatching of the season is the earliest we have on record,” said Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager of the Endangered Bird Conservation Program. “Although there is a possibility that this chick may be part of the group to be released into the wild this fall, we won’t identify the release group until all of the candidate chicks have hatched.”

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This first chick hatched from an egg laid March 4 that was incubated by staff at the center. The chick will be puppet-reared after it opens its eyes, to ensure it does not imprint on humans. Animal care staff hope to create two groups of young ‘alala to be released.

Additional eggs are expected to begin hatching in early April.