The abundance and range of the Hawaiian crow, or alala, (Corvus hawaiiensis) have decreased drastically since the 1890's. Fewer than 10 breeding pairs remained in the wild in 1985. A sample of 82 nests during 1970-82 were used to determine habitat associations. Two hundred firty-nine alala observations were used to estimate densities occurring in different vegetation types in 1978. Compared to available habitat, more nests and higher bird densities during the breeding season occurred in areas where: (1) canopy cover was > 60%; (2) koa (Acacia koa) and ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha) were dominant species in the crown layer; (3) native plants constituted > 75% of the understory cover; and (4) the elevation was 1,100-1,500 m. Compared to breeding habitat, nonbreeding habitat tended to lie at lower elevations and in wetter forests having the crown layer dominated by ohia but lacking koa. Habitat loss is a major factor underlying the decline of this species although predation on fledgings, avian disease, and shooting also have reduced the population. Remaining key habitat areas have little or no legal protection through zoning and land ownership. Preserves should be established to encompass the location of existing pairs and to assure the provision of optimum breeding habitat and suitable nonbreeding habitat.
Additional Publication Details
Habitat selection and management of the Hawaiian crow