What Are They Like?
The Hawaiian crow, also known as by its Hawaiian name ‘Alala, is the only crow species found in Hawaii. It is also the most critically endangered corvid (member of crow family) in the world. Adult Hawaiian crows measure 18-20 inches (46-51 centimeters) long. Their feathers are a dark sooty-brown color, and their upturned bills and feet are black. Both sexes are similar in appearance, but males are usually slightly bigger.
Where Do They Live?
The Hawaiian crow once inhabited the `ohi`a-koa forest and woodlands in Hawaii. In 2002, the last two remaining members of the wild population vanished, effectively making the species extinct in the wild. Hawaiian crows now only exist in captive breeding facilities.
How Are Babies Made?
The breeding season of the Hawaiian crow lasts from March to July. Hawaiian crows typically nested in trees, and both males and females participate in the construction. Females will lay a clutch of one to five eggs, which both parents will take turns incubating.
What Do They Eat?
In the wild, Hawaiian crows are omnivorous and would eat a variety of foods such as, eggs, nestlings, carrion, fruit, insects and even human food scraps.
What Do They Do?
Hawaiian crows have a distinct call that consists of a loud, two-toned caw. They are also known to make screeching sounds in combination with lower toned sounds that resemble a cat's meow. When hungry, Hawaiian crows have been observed raiding other birds' nests for eggs and young. They have even been seen prying up the bark of trees to access the insects and larvae within.
How Concerned Should We Be?
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the Hawaiian Crow as "extinct in the wild." The destruction and degradation of suitable forest habitat caused by logging and agricultural development is one of the most serious threats facing the Hawaiian crow. Feral pigs have drastically reduced the number of native fruit-producing plants, which are an important food source for the crow. Introduced predators, such mongooses, rats and cats, have also contributed to the decline in population of the species.
What's Being Done?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Kona Forest Unit of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge in 1997 to protect existing Hawaiian Crow habitat. Over 40 Hawaiian crows were hatched in captive breeding programs between 1993 and 1999, but unfortunately all of reintroduction attempts yielded negative results, and were halted in 1999. On April 17th 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revised its recovery plan for the Hawaiian crow. As of February 2010, the number of individuals in captivity has grown to 67.
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