The busy season at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Las Vegas has come to an end, translocations are completed for the year, and the tortoises are ready for a long winter sleep. I left Las Vegas for a few days and headed toward the Pacific Ocean! As a full-time San Diego Zoo Global employee, every year I look forward to a chance to learn new skills and meet fellow San Diego Zoo employees: this time, to be introduced to our San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike Captive Breeding Program.
The first leg of my introduction began with a five-hour drive to Naval Base Coronado in San Diego, where I hopped onto a propeller plane headed to San Clemente Island, an island owned by the Navy just a 30-minute flight west of San Diego. For the next few days I worked with an endangered bird, the San Clemente loggerhead shrike, a critically endangered songbird subspecies found only on San Clemente Island. The Navy has been actively guiding and funding the recovery of this species for more than 20 years. It is a collaborative effort between the Navy, the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and other organizations.
My daily tasks consisted of preparing meals of crickets, mealworms, and mice for the 63 shrikes in managed care, clearing the uneaten food from the enclosures, and providing fresh water for the shrikes.
I thoroughly enjoyed observing behaviors, listening to the beautiful songs of the San Clemente loggerhead shrikes, and meeting the dedicated staff who care for these endangered birds.