Close up picture of an alala bird.

‘Alalā

Island icons

Type

flamingo

Birds

Area

Pacific Islands Oceania

Pacific Islands

Endangered Status

Endangered

facts

size
20 inches
adult length
An average soccer ball is 8.65 inches
An alala compared in size to a soccer ball.
food
omnivore
Meat, fruit & seeds.

‘Alalā forage for fruit and insects in the trees. They sometimes eat eggs or nestlings of small birds.

habitat
Hawaiian
forests
Rainforest habitat.

description

An Alala flying between trees

Seedy business

‘Alalā, or Hawaiian crows, are football sized with black feathers and a large bill. They have an important job as seed dispersers in the forest ecosystem. When ‘alalā eat fruit, the seeds travel through their digestive system and come out in their poop. As they fly from tree to tree, the seeds spread through the forest, growing into more plants that animals can use for food and shelter.

An Alala uses a stick in its beak to get food from a log.

Brainy birds

‘Alalā are members of the corvid, or crow, family. Like other crows and ravens, they are extremely intelligent. Scientists have observed ‘alalā using sticks as tools to fish food from hard-to-reach places.

Two alala birds stand on a branch in thier natural habitat.

Saved by science

Cats, dogs, rats, and mongooses have been introduced by people to the Hawaiian Islands, but ʻalalā are not adapted to avoid these new predators.By 2002, they became extinct in their native habitat. Until recently, these birds only lived in two conservation centers under the care of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Our scientists are working with partners like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect ‘alalā, and are returning these birds to their forest homes.