Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26 NKJV)
The main reason we went to Highlands Hammock State Park yesterday was to find some Florida Scrub Jays. The ranger told us where to find theirs and also where more could be found in another park.
Went on the drive where the Wilderness Camping Area is located. Florida Scrub Jays prefer the scrub areas. The ranger told us that they had recently had a controlled burn and this family moved in right after that. From the pictures, you will see the kind of habitat they like.
We found the Florida Scrub Jays, but they never got very close. We were also initiating our new “birding mobile”, as I have named it. Off the subject, but here is a photo of a Red-shouldered Hawk I shot through the “moonroof.” My first attempt at that. Next time, when we are not right under a hawk, it will be opened.
After driving through the rest of that park, we headed for the Lake June-in-Winter State Park. Never heard of it before. It is very tiny and we were the only ones there. Well, the birds of course were there, especially the Scrub Jays. We were able to get quite a few photos of them and they were quite friendly. There were also three Sandhill Cranes plus sounds of birds I do not recognize. The photos will be intermingled with some information about the jays from Wikipedia.
The Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) is one of the species of scrub jay native to North America. It is the only species of bird endemic to the U.S. state of Florida and one of only 15 species endemic to the United States. Because of this, it is heavily sought by birders who travel from across the country to observe this unique species. It is possibly derived from the ancestors of Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, the inland forms of the Western Scrub-jay. They belong to the Corvidae – Crows, Jays, Ravens Family.
It measures 9.1 to 11 in (23 to 28 cm) in length, and weighs from 2.3 to 3.2 oz (66 to 92 g), with an average 2.83 oz (80.2 g). The wingspan of the jay is 13–14 in (33–36 cm). It has a strong black bill, blue head and nape without a crest, a whitish forehead and supercilium, blue bib, blue wings, grayish underparts, gray back, long blue tail, black legs and feet.
The Florida Scrub Jay is found only in Florida scrub habitat, an ecosystem that exists only in central Florida and is characterized by nutrient-poor soil, occasional drought, and frequent wildfires. Because of its somewhat harsh weather pattern, this habitat is host to a small assortment of very specific plants, including Sand Pine, Sand Live Oak, Myrtle Oak, Chapman’s Oak, Sandhill Oak, Florida Rosemary and various other hardy plants such as Eastern prickly pear.
Florida Scrub Jays are omnivorous and eat a wide variety of acorns, seeds, peanuts, insects, tree frogs, turtles, snakes, lizards, and young mice. Florida Scrub Jays have also been occasionally observed to eat other birds’ eggs or nestlings, but this occurs rarely. They routinely cache thousands of acorns a year, burying them just beneath the surface. The acorns are typically buried in the fall and consumed during the winter and spring. Acorns that are forgotten or missed may germinate, making the Florida Scrub-Jay an effective agent for the dispersal of a variety of oak trees.
Scrub jays may also take silverware and other shiny objects in a manner similar to the American Crow.
Here are some more of the photos from this “birdwatching adventure.”