HILO — Conservationists have released five more Hawaiian crows into the wild a year after 11 were released on the Big Island.
The two females and three males were released last week in the Puu Makaala Forest Reserve, bringing the total number of known in the wild up to 16, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.
The ‘Alala Project has worked to restore the population of Hawaii’s only native crow species. The project is a collaboration that includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and San Diego Zoo Global.
Within an hour of their release from an aviary, the crows were observed foraging for native plants, said Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, the project’s coordinator. The birds have undergone wild food and anti-predator training to help them survive on their own, she said.
The group released last year are adapting well, Gaudioso-Levita said. The crows have largely stayed in the area where they were released, but they have occasionally made exploratory flights of a mile (1.6 kilometers) or more. San Diego Zoo Global’s monitoring team tracks the crows through wireless transmitters.
“We try to anchor the groups to specific sites,” Gaudioso-Levita said.
The group release last week has exhibited slightly different behavior. It took nearly an hour for the first crow of the group to venture into the wild, Gaudioso-Levita said. The first crow of last year’s group left the aviary within 20 minutes.
“I think it’s indicative that these are highly intelligent, highly social birds with their own personalities and idiosyncrasies,” Gaudioso-Levita said.
The project plans to release five more crows in October, bringing the number in the wild up to 21.
Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/