Conservation on a Tiny Island

A San Clemente loggerhead shrike

The San Clemente loggerhead shrike is an endangered songbird subspecies.

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.

Pamela helped clean the enclosures and prepare food for the shrikes.

Pamela helped clean the enclosures and prepare food for the shrikes.

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.

San Clemente Island is off the coast of San Diego.

San Clemente Island is off the coast of San Diego.

Pamela Flores is a research associate at the San Diego Zoo Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Read her previous post, Look under Your Vehicle!

 

 

 

One Response to Conservation on a Tiny Island

  1. Pamela,

    I enjoyed your blog, very well written and informative. What a great experience. How many shrikes are left on the island and what are their chances of survival? How many babies are born at a time? At least they are hidden away from human traffic. North Island cordones off a portion of the beach for the plower bird to nest and produce its young maybe every year. I look but never see anything

    Keep them coming
    Rita