Population of rare island-bound jay in California is on the rebound

November 18, 2012

A rare jay found on an island off the California coast may be endangered, but its population is rebounding due to conservation efforts, reports a new study published in the journal Ecological Applications.

The study, led by the Smithsonian Institution’s Migratory Bird Center in Washington D.C., found that the population of the Island Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma insularis) on Santa Cruz Island is only 2,500, making it one of the rarest birds in the United States. As a result of the fundings, the IUCN raised the status of the species to vulnerable to extinction, although neither California, nor the federal government, lists the species as threatened.

Island Scrub-Jay
Island Scrub-Jay. Photo by Glen Tepke
However the bird's population is trending upward, rising 20-30 percent over the past 25 years, according to the study.

The American Bird Conservancy is nonetheless calling for new protections for the species, beyond protection of its habitat: Channel Islands National Park, which encompasses its entire known range.

“Whenever a species only exists in small numbers in a singular location, it is cause for concern,” said Mike Parr, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy, in a statement. “That concern is heightened when the location in question is a relatively small island. Islands are especially vulnerable to introduced predators, severe weather, and climate change impacts that could threaten the survival of this bird.”

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Population of rare island-bound jay in California is on the rebound.