Written by on September 24, 2019

Seven additional ʻAlalā have been released into the Puʻu Makaʻala Natural Area Reserve (NAR) on the windward slopes of Mauna Loa.

This release is part of the ongoing reintroduction efforts being conducted by The ʻAlalā Project, a partnership between the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, San Diego Zoo Global, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The project team released five young males and two young females. One of the male birds, Kalokomaikaʻi, was first released in 2017 but had to be recaptured, and rehabilitated following an injury in the wild. The birds will join several groups of ‘Alalā already living in the forest.

Since 2017, recovery efforts have led to about 20 birds surviving and thriving in the forests of Puʻu Makaʻala NAR.

The newly released birds were given Hawaiian names by students from local schools on Hawaiʻi Island – Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu, Mountain View Elementary School, Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi Campus , E.B. DeSilva Elementary School, Connections Public Charter School, and Kamehameha Schools.

Their names are Keolamauloa, Eola, Kamanuolamau, Kalāʻau, ʻAlohi, and Kanaʻi. “The naming contest is an exciting way for keiki to connect to these birds and be a part of conservation efforts happening within their island home,” explained Rachel Kingsley, Education and Outreach Associate for The ʻAlalā Project.

During the reintroduction process, The ʻAlalā Project monitors the birds’ behaviors and movements regularly. Observers documented several major milestones this summer when birds that were released in 2017 began to show breeding and courtship behaviors like feeding and preening one another, making territorial vocalizations, and nest building. Three pairs of birds developed pair bonds this breeding season: two of these pairs were seen nest-building, and one of the females, named Manaiakalani, sat on her nest for several weeks.

During that time, the male, Manaʻolana was seen providing her with food on the nest. After there was no hatching observed, the birds remained in the nest tree area and continued defending their territory around it.

The birds will continue to be monitored and tracked to observe their foraging, social interactions, spatial range, and breeding attempts as well as the success of the program, overall.

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