Partnership Uses Signage to Educate Trail Users of New Mexico’s Beloved Bird

La gente siempre sabe donde hay piñon, pero no te dice donde. 

“People always know where there is piñon, but they are not going to tell you where.”


New Pinyon Jay signs along the Santa Fe County River Greenway trail and on the city’s Dale Ball Trail at Sierra del Notre inform trail users about the cerulean blue Pinyon Jay and how to protect piñon pines, the jay’s preferred habitat and food source.  

Designed by local photographer and artist, Christina Selby, and donated by Defenders of Wildlife, the signs are a part of a public-private partnership to help conserve the Pinyon Jay. 

“We hope the signs will inspire local trail users to help this important and declining Southwest bird,” said Peggy Darr, Defenders’ New Mexico representative. “Santa Fe residents have the power and unique opportunity to play a part in Pinyon Jay’s protection, which will benefit the local ecosystem and sustain the landscapes we love here in the Southwest.” 

For New Mexicans, the relationship with the beloved two-needle piñon (Pinus edulis) is the trinity of culture, habitat, and seed. The Pinyon Jay, or piñonero, is an iconic bird of the West. This crestless, highly social species, recognized for its pale blue and white plumage, is found from central Oregon to western South Dakota, and from central Montana  to southern New Mexico. Their survival depends on healthy woodlands and abundant piñon pine seeds. 

“Grateful for Defenders’ gift of conservation signs, we're enhancing awareness and appreciation for the Pinyon Jays, whose numbers have fallen by about 85% in 50 years due to habitat loss. This sign at Dale Ball Trails is a vital part of our efforts to educate and protect these essential birds and their habitats,” said Melissa McDonald, Parks and Open Space Division director.  

Santa Fe County, the City of Santa Fe and Defenders of Wildlife encourage residents to explore the greenway and the Sierra del Norte Dale Ball Trailhead with their family and friends, engage with the signage, and try to spot the Pinyon Jay in its natural habitat. 

“Santa Fe County is grateful to Defenders of Wildlife for designing and creating this beautiful sign, in support of Pinyon Jay conservation,” said Nav Khalsa Santa Fe County volunteer coordinator. “The images and information provide a meaningful way for our community to understand the relationship between Pinyon Jays and Piñon Pines, and to become engaged as stewards of this ecosystem and it’s wildlife.”  

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Pinyon Jay warrants consideration of protection under the Endangered Species Act and is currently reviewing its status in the wild before making an official ESA listing decision.  

For more information on participating in the Pinyon Jay Private Lands Conservation Program, please visit or contact Peggy Darr, Defenders of Wildlife New Mexico Representative at 505-395-7334 or  

Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

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Communications Specialist



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