HILO >> A dozen birds native to Hawaii will be released in November to end over a decade of extinction in the wild for the species.
The corvid is part of the crow family and will be reintroduced at a natural area reserve aviary, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.
State and federal wildlife officials along with the San Diego Zoo have planned more releases over a five-year period.
First-year costs will be $800,000 and decrease by about half after that. The zoo and federal and state dollars fund the program.
“It’s been such a long-term and large-scale conservation effort,” said project coordinator Jackie Gaudioso-Levita. “We are extremely excited to see and hear ‘alala in the wild.”
The 12 birds are going to an aviary to ease the transition from captivity.
Predators and disease killed 21 of 27 corvids that were raised in captivity and then released in the 1990s.
San Diego Zoo experts are giving chicks in this latest group lessons in hiding from predators.
The release was postponed to November from mid-September.
“It’s to make sure that every aspect of the project is completely ready to go,” Gaudioso-Levita said.
Public outreach for the project has been ongoing.
Outreach and education specialist Lea Ka’aha’aina has been to schools ranging from children to college students.
“It really is great, because there’s no better way to make people fall in love with ‘alala,” Ka’aha’aina said. “They make quite an impression . they’re so playful when you watch them interact with each other; they’re so curious.”