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Manu Minute: 'Alalā Find a New Home in Hilo

Ann Tanimoto-Johnson Alala Pano Pau, AMT_3577.jpg
Ann M. Tanimoto
LOHE Bioacoustics Lab
This is Pano Pau, one of the two male 'alalā that will live at the Pana'ewa Zoo in Hilo.

We've talked about the velvety-black 'alalā before on Manu Minute. But today we have some exciting news to share! Two of these incredibly rare endemic birds — named Loli'ana and Pano Pau — now have a home at the Pana'ewa Zoo in Hilo.

Although the 'alalā is called the Hawaiian Crow, it's more closely related to ravens.

Once common on Hawai'i Island, their numbers drastically decreased in the 20th century due to habitat loss, hunting, and disease. None were left in the wild by the late 1990s.

Today, they are one of the world’s rarest birds — a total of 132 'alalā remain at two breeding facilities in Hawaiʻi managed by the San Diego Zoo.

The UH Hilo LOHE Bioacoustics Lab is recording the vocalizations of Loli'ana and Pano Pau to see if and how their behaviors will change over time in their new home at the Pana'ewa Zoo.

AMTJ_Alala Pano Pau and Loli'ana, Panaewa Zoo Spectrogram Video.mp4

"One amazing thing about corvids like our 'alalā is that they are known to be among the most intelligent birds in the world," says Patrick Hart, host of Manu Minute and head of the LOHE Lab. "They are also what we call 'lifetime learners' in that they can learn new behaviors or vocalizations throughout their life... Most other bird species either have their vocalizations genetically hard-wired in them (and so they usually sound similar to each other), or have only a small window of 'song learning' in which they can learn their vocalizations from their parents and other birds around them."

"Since 'alalā are in the lifetime learner group, this means that the new environment that the 'alalā are in may have big impacts on their behaviors and vocalizations."

Listen to today's Manu Minute to hear brand new songs from our 'alalā in Panaʻewa!

Let's be honest — a black crow is not a typical mascot for a tropical paradise. But the native 'alalā, or Hawaiian crow, is deeply intertwined with the…

Patrick Hart is the host of HPR's Manu Minute. He runs the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is a producer for The Conversation and Manu Minute. Contact her at
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