Florida Scrub-Jay Festival 2015

February 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Events

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is hosting the sixth annual Florida Scrub-Jay Festival on Feb. 28, 2015 from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. The event celebrates the endangered scrub habitat and Florida Scrub-jay, a threatened species found only in Florida. The festival will offer live music, nature tours, live animals displays, presentations, environmental exhibits, and children’s’ activities and games. The event and all activities are free. The main event will take place at the refuge visitor center located on SR 402, 5 miles east of the Intersection of U.S. 1 and Garden Street (SR406) in Titusville. From the intersection of U.S. 1 and Garden Street, head east over the Max Brewer Bridge and continue to the fork in the road. Bear right at the fork and continue 2 miles to the entrance to the visitor center.

The Endangered Florida ScrubJay

October 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

Entered onto the endangered list as a threatened species in 1987, the Florida Scrub Jay populations have dramatically decreased in numbers over the last few years. Encroachment on their natural habitat and their unique breeding and survival habits could lead to the extinction of this magnificent bird that is endemic to Florida. Fortunately, researchers have been keeping a close eye on these birds for more than thirty-five years and have come up with a solution to ensure that the Florida Scrub Jay will continue to frequent the landscapes of Florida and hopefully increase their numbers.

The Florida Scrub Jay is noticeable by its blue wings, tail, head, nape and bib, and their underparts and backs are a light shade of grey. They have black bills, feet and legs, and grow to approximately twenty-eight centimeters in height. It is the unique scrub in Florida that has ensured that the Florida Scrub Jay has remained within this state, in ecosystems filled with Myrtle Oak, Sand Pine, Florida Rosemary, Eastern Prickly Pear and Chapman’s Oak. They live on a diet of mice, frogs, acorns, peanuts, lizards and insects, and are known to store acorns throughout the year. It was observed by the late Glen Woolfenden in 1969 that these extraordinary birds take part in what is known as cooperative breeding, meaning that more than one bird tends to a nest. An intern, John Fitzpatrick, joined Woolfenden three years later, and has continued his work in regard to the study and conservation of the Florida Scrub Jay.

One vital aspect that will help to save the Florida Scrub Jay is to ensure that there is enough scrub to encourage the birds to move to larger areas, like stepping stones from one area to the next. It has been found that Florida Scrub Jays do not move to unfamiliar habitats, and the divisions between habitats will eventually cause birds to be isolated from one another and become extinct. Wildfires are also a major threat to this bird’s habitat. Research has also shown that the different Scrub Jay species have various different needs, and each population should therefore be treated and conserved individually. Fitzpatrick hopes that by sharing his knowledge of the Scrub Jays, positive changes will be made to conserve and protect these socially dependant birds throughout the state of Florida.

ScrubJay Festival 2010

January 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

The Scrub Jay Festival 2010, will take place on 20 February, and is an initiative that is hosted by the Lyonia Environmental Center to raise awareness for the plight of the Scrub Jay. It is a bird that is only found in Florida, and nests in habitats where scrub is in abundance. They are currently a threatened species, with encroachment on their habitat being a major threat, and the festival hopes to educate the public on this unique bird. Guided walks, talks to promote conservation, live music performances and activities for children will keep festival goers entertained and amazed throughout the day.

To find out more about the festival and its activities, contact the Lyonia Environmental Center direct, of visit their website at http://lyoniapreserve.com/LEC1-6-10.htm.

Date: 20 February 2010
Venue: Lyonia Environmental Center
City: Deltona, Florida
Country: United States of America

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May 15, 2009 by  
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Florida Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) is 10 to 12 inches long and weighs only two and half ounces. It is the size of a mockingbird and it is a blue and grey colored bird. The back and the belly of the scrub-jay is a pale grey in contrast to the pale blue found on the head, neck, nape and tail. The Florida scrub-jay is similar in appearance to the common blue jay, but does not have a crest, black bars and white tipped feathers.

There is little difference between the male and female scrub-jay. The only difference between the juveniles and the adults is that the juveniles lack the blue coloring on their crown and nape. To date the oldest reported scrub-jay is 15 and half years, but it is not often that they live that long.

As indicated by the name of the Florida scrub-jay, it can be found only in peninsular Florida; although historically the scrub-jay could be found in over 39 counties south of and including, Gilchrist, Levy, Clay, Alachua and Duval. They are now officially extinct in 9 of these counties, which includes Alachua, Dade, Gilchrist, Broward, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Hendry Pinellas Counties. Over the last 15 years it has been estimated that the scrub-jay population has decreased by 25 to 50% but has declined as much as 80% in the last 100 years.

The Florida scrub-jay’s habitat is scrub, a unique vegetation community that is made up of plants that exist well in sandy, nutrient poor soil with a good drainage system. This vegetation is dependant on wildfires that periodically take place and can take both long periods of drought and high seasonal rainfall. You can also find a variety of oaks and pines in this vegetation, which the scrub-jays enjoy.

Florida Scrub-jays are territorial birds and so will defend their territory, which averages about 23 acres in size. Their territory will grow in size if either their family size grows or the habitat they live in is not optimal. They are therefore non-migratory birds unlike so many others.

These birds are omnivores, often eating insects, reptiles, frogs, acorns, seeds and berries. Of these it is the insects that make up the majority of the scrub-jays diet in spring and summer. Then in winter when insects are hard to come by, the birds will eat mostly acorns from a variety of oak trees.