Biologists on the Channel Islands are worried that an attack of the West Nile virus could decimate the archipelago’s island scrub jay, which is not technically endangered but remains at risk due to its relatively isolated population. To fight back, they’re giving a vaccine to as many of the jays as possible, which they expect to be about 250 individuals by the end of next spring. Among other important roles played by the jays—which are larger than their mainland cousins and coveted by birdwatchers who travel to Santa Cruz Island solely to check them off their life lists—the birds bury acorns all over the landscape, thereby planting the next generation of oak trees.


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