Posted by: Sandy Steinman | October 18, 2010

West Nile Virus threatens Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay with extinction

Nature Conservancy lead efforts to Protect  Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jays

The Nature Conservancy is coordinating an effect to capture and vaccinate the Jays from West Nile Virus.  Although no birds have yet to be infected with the virus, it is believed that they are at high risk in the future when infected birds or mosquitoes fly near the island.    There are less than 3000 birds in the population.  The goal is vaccinate at least 250 birds to create a disease resistant core population.

An amazingly low-tech trap is used to capture the birds.  It consists of a wire basket attached propped up with a stick and a string is pulled by an observed to capture the birds.  The birds are  inoculated and released.

 

 

Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay by Kapitan Hojo

 

The Santa Cruz Island Jays are helping to restore the island to its native state.

Years of grazing and feral pigs had devastated the natural landscape of the island. The pigs have been removed through hunting and native plants are returning.   Acorns buried by the jays sprout into native Oaks.  The Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay is North America’s only endemic island bird.  It is larger and bluer than its relative,  the common Western Scrub Jay.  To read more go to the LA Times article: Taking a rare jay under their wing

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