Guam – The critically endangered species of bird known as the Marianas Crow is down to only two individuals left in the wild in Guam’s jungles. This subspecies of crow can only be found on Guam and in Rota and while there are still some Marianas crow in Rota the numbers there are on the decline as well.
Two years ago there were about 14 Marianas Crow living in the wild on Andersen Airforce base. Today there are only two. Jeff Quitugua is a Department of Agriculture wildlife biologist who keeps track of the Marianas Crow on Guam. “The latest count of the Marianas Crow is what’s known is there are two Marianas Crow that are out in the wild and there are two that are here in captivity,” said Quitugua.
Guam and Rota are the only two places in the world where Marianas Crow can be found. So why are their numbers dwindling? Quitugua says it could be due to a number of things. Brown tree snakes and feral cats have been blamed for wiping many of them out and by the year 2000 there were only a few left in the wild. So they took some birds from Rota and released them on Andersen where they had snake control to try and re-populate the island. The birds have been living in the Northwest field and munitions storage areas of Andersen since. They were doing good for a while but suddenly there numbers began to drop, and now there are only two left. So how did they go from 14 individuals to only two in such a short amount of time? Well, one possible answer is habitat disturbance due to the construction and other activities happening on and near Andersen Airforce base. “You know there’s a lot of development that’s going on you know not only inside the base but even outside so you know there could be issues with that,” explained Quitugua adding, “In a development it requires a lot of clearing and grading so once you start removing forested areas you’re chasing them off from their territory.” Quitugua explained that they have actually witnessed firsthand the effects that noise from aircraft has on the crows saying, “The birds could be displaced by the noise impacts we’ve seen it it’s been observed in nesting areas where birds will panic in a way when an f-17 flies right by or something.”
Nevertheless Quitugua is careful lay blame saying, “We just don’t know we can’t point fingers to particular projects or whatever really happened I mean Andersen they have their own mission they have to do their mission to be the best that they are with defending our country.”
There are two more Marianas Crow in captivity at the Department of Agriculture but they rarely mate in captivity. There is an estimated 80-90 Mariana Crow in Rota.