Green Guide

Officials turn to Puerto Rico for bird recovery advice

Posted April 11

— Hawaii officials are turning to Puerto Rico wildlife experts for advice on how to save the Hawaiian crow, the alala.

Hawaiian wildlife officials have invited a Puerto Rican biologist who took part in the U.S. territory's effort to save its endangered parrot to come observe their own bird recovery project, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday (http://bit.ly/2o3cFmz).

Much like Hawaii's alala, the Puerto Rican parrot had to be kept in captivity and faced challenges during its early reintroduction to the wild. Today, the parrot is thriving in forests, Puerto Rico wildlife officials said.

The alala project aims to find a safe way to reintroduce the endangered bird back into the wild after breeding it in captivity.

Wildlife officials' last attempt ended with two of five alalas dead within the first week of their release. Necropsies determined that two alalas were killed by the Hawaiian hawk, or the io, and one bird died after being weakened in a winter storm.

U.S. Fish and Wild Service biologist Tom White, with the Puerto Rico Parrot Recovery Program, recommends conducting more intensive predator-aversion training, as Puerto Rico did with its parrot, to increase the alalas' chances of survival.

"Needless to say, subsequent groups released the following years were all subjected to aversion training, and we did not see any similar episodes of high mortality with the other Rio Abajo releases," White said in an email.

Alala Project Coordinator Jackie Gaudioso-Levita said they hope to conduct a second release in the Puu Makaala Natural Area Reserve near Hilo by late summer or early fall.

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