Eleven ‘alala, or Hawaiian crows, are thriving in the wild after being released into a nature reserve in October.
The birds, seven males and four females, were raised in captivity but were released into the Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve last year to replenish the population of the endangered species in its native habitat.
According to a joint news release from the Department of Land and Natural Resources and San Diego Zoo Global, the birds have adapted to their new habitat and have been observed foraging for native fruits instead of relying on feeders.
The birds also have learned to respond appropriately to natural predators. The release said the ‘alala have been observed taking evasive actions when confronted by an ‘io, or Hawaiian hawk.
A previous attempt to reintroduce ‘alala into the wild was cut short in December 2016, when three of the five birds released were killed within a week of release, two of them by an ‘io. Subsequently, the surviving ‘alala received anti-predator training to identify and respond to predators. ‘Alala have been extinct in the wild since 2002. Although the 11 in the wild appear to be thriving, they are constantly monitored and recorded.
Plans are underway to release additional ‘alala later this year.