Start receiving our award-winning magazine today!

Subscribe
  • pause
  • The only place in the world to see a living island scrub-jay is on Santa Cruz Island, California. Their limited habitat and high vulnerability to disease increase their risk of extinction. © Stephen Francis Photography
  • The Conservancy is working to protect island scrub-jays by vaccinating them against West Nile virus. © Kathryn Langin
  • In order to vaccinate the jays, we need to catch them first—with a simple wire-mesh box and a stick...and peanuts. Jays can't resist peanuts! © Kathryn Langin
  • Once captured, our scientists do a thorough check-up on each bird to evaluate its health. © Elizabeth Donadio
  • Highly sophisticated technology, such as these digital calipers, allows us to capture vital data that are automatically transmitted to and stored in a computer. © Elizabeth Donadio
  • After the check-up, we band the bird in order to track its progress. We start by measuring the jay's leg bone so we know what size bands to use. © Elizabeth Donadio
  • While preparing the bands, we give the jay a pencil "perch" to clasp. Otherwise, they try to grab objects with their feet while we handle them—which can make banding very difficult! © Elizabeth Donadio
  • Voila! The first of a series of bands is attached to the jay's leg. This USGS aluminum band has a unique number that helps us to track the movement of the bird. © Elizabeth Donadio
  • We also attach a unique combination of colored bands that allow us to identify each bird by sight and thus monitor their territory, mating status, reproductive success and survival. © Elizabeth Donadio
  • Success! A fully banded jay. The unique color combination of the bands reads from top to bottom, left to right, from the bird's perspective. This bird's ID is blue-green-black, aluminum-white. © Elizabeth Donadio
  • Scientists record the banding data of each bird in a field notebook; the data are later transferred to a computer database. © Elizabeth Donadio
  • Next, we collect a blood sample from each bird. This can be a tricky feat, but it is a vital step in determining the health, diet and genetic makeup of the bird. © Elizabeth Donadio
  • Scientists use a tiny sterile needle to collect blood from the jay's wing. Except for a momentary discomfort, the jays are not harmed by the blood-sampling process. © Elizabeth Donadio
  • Once the bird has been vaccinated against West Nile virus, it is released into the wild. © Kathryn Langin
  • To date, more than 100 birds out of an estimated total population of 2,400 have been vaccinated. © Stephen Francis Photography
Protecting Birds of a Feather
Our Work to Save the Island Scrub-Jay

We’re Accountable

The Nature Conservancy makes careful use of your support.

More Ratings

x animal

Sign up for Nature eNews!

Sign Up for Nature e-News

Get our e-newsletter filled with eco-tips and info on the places you care about most.

Thank you for joining our online community!

We’ll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates and exciting stories.

Please leave this field empty

We respect your privacy. The Nature Conservancy will not sell, rent or exchange your e-mail address. Read our full privacy policy for more information. By submitting this form, you agree to the Nature.org terms of use.