GBBO has been continuing its work to better understand the causes behind the rapid, ongoing decline in Pinyon Jays. This decline of 4-5% per year has been occurring over the last 30 years, and has been well-documented by BBS data. However, its causes have not yet been adequately explained, in part because Pinyon Jays have been a poorly studied species in much of their range and present many challenges for field biologists. Nevertheless, we have been successful in efforts to deploy radio tags on Pinyon Jays, and have over the past year conducted a detailed nest study and habitat use assessment in the Desatoya Mountains of western-central Nevada.
Although data from the last year are still being analyzed, all of our findings to date are consistent with a picture of Pinyon Jays as a species that prefers transitional ecotones between pinyon-juniper woodlands and sagebrush. Because many of these mixed-age, mixed-structure transitional areas have been supplanted over the last century by larger and denser pinyon-juniper woodland patches, we are hypothesizing that the Pinyon Jay's preferred landscape has been reduced in extent. This suggests a possible mechanism that may have contributed to the Pinyon Jay's documented declines, and one that has ramifications for current pinyon-juniper woodland management practices. GBBO will continue its efforts on behalf of Pinyon Jays, and we will be presenting our findings and recommendations in publications in the near future.