Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Flocks of Amami jays can be found wandering through their preferred habitat, mature evergreen forest, searching for their main food source, acorns of the Castanopsis cuspidata tree. These flocks are generally small, but groups of up to 100 have been reported. It is rarely seen feeding in the trees, preferring instead to forage among leaf litter on the forest floor, and will often store the food it finds for the winter. As well as acorns, the Amami jay consumes sweet potato, insects and reptiles, such as grass lizards and the poisonous Okinawa pit-viper (3). The Amami jay breeds from late January until May, when it will lay three to four eggs in nests on low tree branches, in tree holes, or occasionally on the ground or on buildings. The adults protect small territories around the nesting site, and chicks fledge in mid to late March (3).
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Description

This stunning, richly coloured bird is found only on a few islands in Japan. Its plumage is a deep purplish-blue, with a velvety black forehead and a rich chestnut back and underparts. The flight and tail feather are tipped with white, and there is also white flecking on the throat. The bill has a grey-blue base and an ivory coloured tip (2). The Latin genus name of this bird, Garrulus, means talkative and chattering.
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Distribution

Range Description

Garrulus lidthi is endemic to the islands of Amami-ooshima, Kakeroma-jima, Uke-jima, Edateku-jima, part of the Nansei Shoto Islands, Japan (BirdLife International 2001, K. Ishida in litt. 2012). Its population was estimated at c.5,800 birds in the 1970s, but it may have declined through to the 1990s. It is precautionarily treated as undergoing a continuing decline overall, although it may have begun to increase since 2000, owing to alien predator control and natural forest regeneration (Yukihiro Kominami in litt. 2007), and may now be stable (K. Ishida in litt. 2012). Some observations indicate a population increase in the northern Kasari peninsula of Amami-ooshima (M. Takashi per K. Ishida in litt. 2012).

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Range

Ryukyu Islands (Amami-O-Shima and Tokuno-Shima).

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Range

The Amami jay is found only on the Nansei Shoto islands in southern Japan, where it occurs on Amami-ooshima and Kakeroma-jima. It previously could be found on Tokuno-shima Island, but is now believed to be extinct there (2).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It occurs from sea-level into the hills, in subtropical evergreen broadleaved forest, coniferous forest, and in woodland around cultivation and human habitation, showing a significant preference for mature forest. It feeds on and caches the acorns of Castanopsis cuspidate, Quercus glauca and other oaks when they are available; if this food supply is exhausted birds will feed in agricultural fields (Yukihiro Kominami in litt. 2007). Sweet potato, insects, spiders, seeds, fruits, reptiles, including Okinawa pit-viper Trimeresurus flavoviridis, and birds are also included in its diet. It forages in trees and on the ground. Breeding takes place from late January or early February until May.


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Occurs primarily in subtropical evergreen broadleaved forest, particularly mature forest, but can also be found in coniferous forest and woodland around agricultural areas and human habitation, from sea level up into the hills (3).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Garrulus lidthi

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 7
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
C2a(ii)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Ishida, K. & Kominami, Y.

Justification
This jay has a small population which is suspected to have declined, possibly as a result of increased levels of predation. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable. If surveys reveal that the population is now increasing following predator control and forest regeneration, the species may warrant downlisting.

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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Population

Population
The global population is estimated to number c.5,800 individuals (Nishidi 1974 in Brazil 1991), equivalent to c.3,900 mature individuals. It has been suggested that the population now exceeds 5,800 individuals (K. Ishida in litt. 2012); however, further research is required. The population is presently assumed to form one sub-population, but future genetic research (K. Ishida in litt. 2012) is expected to confirm whether this is the case.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
In some years, a high proportion of nests are predated by crows and mammals, and the small Asian mongoose Herpestes auropunctatus and snakes have been reported to prey on young birds and eggs. However, it is not known whether this apparently increased predation pressure will have a long-term effect on the population. The numbers of Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos on Amami-ooshima have recently increased, probably because of increased garbage disposal on the island. The effect of logging on its population is probably relatively small.

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Historically, this species was threatened by hunting for the cagebird and feather trade, but today, the primary threat to the Amami jay comes from increased levels of predation. Large-billed crows, which prey on eggs and chicks, have recently increased in number, probably as a result of increased rubbish disposal on the islands. Several introduced mammals also prey on the Amami jay, including feral dogs, feral cats and the Javan mongoose, which was introduced for snake control. It is not yet known the impact that this increased predation may have on populations of Amami jay. An additional threat comes from habitat loss, as in the last few decades large areas of mature forest have been cleared. It is possible that deforestation was the primary cause of the Amami jay's extinction on Tokuno-shima Island (3).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
It is legally protected in Japan. Yuwandake on Amami-ooshima was established as a National Wildlife Protection Area, mainly for the conservation of this species and Amami Thrush Zoothera major. Several surveys and ecological studies have been completed. Introduced small Indian mongoose has been controlled within its range in recent years and as a result the species may now be stable or increasing. The increase in numbers of Large-billed Crows Corvus macrorhynchos on Amami-ooshima has been halted by improvements in refuse management (K. Ishida in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain an up-to-date population estimate. Conduct regular surveys to ascertain whether the population is in fact stable or recovering. Conserve and restore remaining areas of mature forest on Amami-ooshima. Provide nest-boxes in areas where there is a shortage of suitable natural nesting sites. Control alien predators on Amami-ooshima.

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Conservation

The Amami jay is on the national Red List of Japan, and is legally protected as a National Endangered Species. It also occurs in three protected areas; Yuwangatake National Wildlife Protection Area on Amami, and Kinsakubaru and Kanengotake Prefectural Wildlife Protection Areas, established primarily for the conservation of the Amami jay and Amami thrush (Zoothera major). A number of surveys and ecological studies of this bird have been undertaken, but further research and monitoring is recommended. Surveys of the mountain region of Tokuno-shima to elucidate the causes of the bird's extinction there would be particularly beneficial, as this knowledge could be used to prevent the same occurring on other islands. The remaining areas of mature forest within its range need to be protected, and control of introduced mammals is equally vital to the survival of this beautiful bird (3).
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Wikipedia

Lidth's jay

The Lidth's jay (Garrulus lidthi) is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to Japan.

Measuring up to 38 cm (15 in) in total length,[2] it is slightly larger than its close relative the Eurasian jay, with a proportionately stouter bill and also a longer tail. It has no discernible crest, with the head feathers a velvety black, the shoulders and back a deep purplish blue and all other parts a rich chestnut purple.

This jay has a very restricted distribution occurring only on the southern Japanese islands of Amami Ōshima and Tokunoshima in pine forest, sub-tropical woodland and cultivated areas especially around villages.

Food is largely made up of the acorns of the native oak Quercus cuspidata but includes small reptiles and invertebrates of many types.

The bird nests in large cavities in trees but otherwise the nest is the same as that of the other two Garrulus species with 3–4 eggs.

The voice is similar to that of the Eurasian jay.

The species was threatened in the past by hunting for its feathers, which were used for decorating ladies' hats. Today it is threatened by introduced small Indian mongooses, which were brought to its range to control the venomous Okinawa pit viper. The species is fully protected under Japanese law and is increasing in numbers thanks to control of the mongooses.

References[edit]

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