HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Conservationists are celebrating the arrival of the first Hawaiian crow to be hatched at a Big Island breeding facility this season.
Hawaiian crow, or alala, have been extinct in the wild since 2002.
The crows hatched at the San Diego Zoo Global's Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program on Hawaii Island, and will be reared and then let go in Hawaii's native forests.
"This first hatching of the season is the earliest we have on record," said Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager.
"Although there is a possibility that this chick may be part of the group to be released into the wild this fall, we won't identify the release group until all of the candidate chicks have hatched."
The chick hatched from an egg laid on March 4 that incubated by staff at the center. The chick will be puppet-reared after it opens its eyes to ensure that it does not imprint on humans.
Animal care staff hope to create two groups of young alala to be released into their native forests this year. The alala is a member of the crow family that was brought to the brink of extinction by loss of habitat, introduced predators, and diseases.
"Returning the alala to the forest is a significant step in the recovery of this species and native forest ecosystem in Hawaii," said Jay Nelson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist.