Friends of Oscar Scherer Park
The Florida Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) is the only bird species unique to Florida and they do not migrate. Scrub-jays mate for life, and raise their young in cooperative family groups consisting of a breeding pair and their offspring.
Offspring act as helpers and assist in defending the family’s territory, nest and young. However, only the breeding pair participates in nest-building, incubating and brooding activities, which take place from late February through the end of June.
The adult Florida Scrub-jay is about 10-12 inches long with blue and gray colored feathers. The head, nape, wings and tail are blue, while the back and belly are gray. Males and females are similar in appearance: however juveniles can be distinguished from adults by their dusky brown head and neck.
Florida Scrub-jays primarily eat insects and acorns, but also consume plants and small animals such as frogs, toads, lizards, snakes and even mice. Each Florida Scrub-jay can harvest and bury an astounding 6,000 to 8,000 acorns from August to November as a food source throughout the year. Feeding Florida Scrub-jays is a federal offense and can affect their natural diet while disrupting their breeding cycle.
Florida Scrub-jays are entirely dependent on oak scrub communities; low-growing oak shrubs punctuated by scattered sandy clearings and few trees. Scrub-jay families utilize a territory of natural habitat ranging from 5 to 50 acres depending on the size of a family group and condition of habitat; the average is about 25 acres.
Management of the scrubby flatwoods is critical to the survival of Scrub-jays and other animals and plants in the park, this management includes prescribed burns to maintain the low oaks and sandy patches for Scrub-jays and other species.
Scrub-jay populations are thought to have declined by as much as 90% over the past century, and preservation of existing populations is of paramount importance. Our effort, with your support, is critical to the conservation of Scrub-jays and their survival on the west coast of Florida.