The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

Extinct in the Wild: Hawaiian Crow

Hawaiian Crow is considered to be extinct in the wild.  Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hawaiian Crow is considered to be extinct in the wild. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Scientific Name: Corvus hawaiiensis, also known as ‘Alalā (Cry like a child)

Historic Range:

The Hawaiian Crow is native to the Big Island and was most populous in upland forests, between 3,000 to 6,000 feet in elevation, on Hualalai and Mauna Loa.

What Hawaiian Crows Eat:

Mostly native fruit, but also insects and nectar. Hawaiian crows will also raid other bird nests for their eggs.

How Long Hawaiian Crows Live: 18 years in the wild. 25 years in captivity.

Why Hawaiian Crows Are Extinct in the Wild:

The last two known wild Hawaiian Crows disappeared in 2002, after years of population decline due to multiple factors including:

  • Predation by rats, feral cats and mongoose.
  • Habitat destruction from logging and agriculture.
  • Introduced diseases, including toxoplasmosis, avian malaria, and pox.

Conservation of Hawaiian Crows:

Captive management of Hawaiian Crows began with occasional acquisition of sick or injured birds by the State of Hawaii in 1970. In 1986, the nine captive Hawaiian Crows at Pohakuloa were transferred to a new breeding facility in Maui. In 1993, The Peregrine Fund assumed the captive management program and was also commissioned to build a new captive breeding facility dedicated for several endangered species of Hawaiian forest birds. The facility was named the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center and was completed in 1996. It is located near Volcano on the island of Hawaii. Also in 1996, The Peregrine Fund assumed operations of the Olinda Endangered Species Propagation Facility from the State of Hawaii, and renamed it the Maui Bird Conservation Center.

In 2000, The Zoological Society of San Diego took over the operations at both facilities and changed the title of the program to the Hawaiian Endangered Bird Conservation Program. Originally, the plan was to release captive bred juvenile crows into the wild, both from captive-laid and wild-collected eggs but this was unsuccessful and wild releases ceased. As of January 2008, the total Hawaiian Crow population was comprised of the 56 individuals in the captive flocks at the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers.

Now, there are more than 100 captive bred Hawaiian Crows and high hopes of restoring the wild population. Please watch the following news clip from 2011 for details.

One comment on “Extinct in the Wild: Hawaiian Crow

  1. nevaknott
    July 6, 2014

    I love learning more about my favorite place. Is there still a facility on Maui? If so, I’ll put it on my “to see” list for my next visit there.


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