One would think, that growing up in Florida, I would have seen Florida Scrub Jay’s all over the place. In actuality though, I had never heard of the bird until I started seriously birding this year.
The Florida Scrub Jay is only found in Florida, and is an inquisitive and friendly bird, and the species dates back to about 2 million years ago.
Wanting to find some Florida Scrub Jays, I went to the trusty Cornell University’s eBird.org website to find where they are. Luckily, very close to where we are staying is the Lyonia Preserve in Volusia County.
Arriving mid-morning I discovered the preserve is behind a public library. It is classical Florida Scrub brush. White sand and palmetto trees.
There are three trails, yellow, red, and blue that each circle further away from the library. I had to chose my path well, as if I wasn’t careful, I would sign onto a five-mile hike.
But finding the Florida Scrub Jays were like looking for a needle in a haystack. Where oh where could these Jays be in all this scrub brush? It was fairly quiet, no birds chirping or rustling except a pair of House Wrens. So down the path I went. Going this a-way, and that a-way.
Coming to a four way intersection, I wondered which way to go. No Scrub Jays in sight. But wait…??? What is that I hear rustling in the scrub? I quickly play their song on my iBird app and before I knew it, Scrub Jays surrounded me!
I hit the jackpot ! Not only did I find one Scrub Jay, but there were five of them! They all came in, inquisitive and wondering if perhaps I had something for them. They had all been banded, and there are clear signs to not feed the Florida Scrub Jays. Seems feeding them throws off their breeding season and the babies are born before their food is available.
Even these Jays know to give me “The Look”, especially when they figured out I didn’t have food, nor was another Jay.
One came in so close, I couldn’t get her with my big lens, so I snapped this with my iPhone. Stepping back with the beast, I was able to get a beautiful capture of her.
They are such beautiful birds, I was so fortunate to be in their presence. Feeling them fly closely by and hearing the loud flutter of their wings was truly a magical moment.