08 August 2009
Scrub-Jays, the Floridians
Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)
There are actually native Floridians. One just needs to look beyond many of the humans.
Heidi and I had a number of target-species we wanted to observe that where either endemic to the state or their only US occurance was in the state. The Florida Scrub-Jay met the former criteria.
We came across a great location with Oscar Scherer State Park.
This corvid is a federally listed Threatened Species that only occurs in the central third of the Sunshine State.
We learned that the optimum habitat for this charming species is fire-produced transitional scrub, primarily oak-pine association.
As this bird is Threatened, so is this local ecosystem. It would seem that Homo sapien sapien find this open habitat easy to clear and build on. Restricted to this disappearing habitat, population had declined ~ 90 percent in the 20th century.
The individual in this first picture was acting as sentry for a family group. Young that have fledged the nest remain in the territory and help with the rearing of nestlings.
Nonbreeding scrub-jays (especially males) may remain in their parents' territory as helpers for several years before dispersing to establish their own territory or join another family. A well-defined hierarchy exists within these extended family groups.
Personally, this completed my North American "scrub-jay" ventures and North America representatives of the Genus Aphelocoma. ... Now for that Unicolored Jay (Aphelocoma unicolor)...