Florida scrub jay Florida scrub jay - ImagesGram

Florida scrub jay

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 continental United States. Because of this, it is heavily sought by birders who travel from across the country to observe this unique species. It is known to have been present in Florida as a distinct species for at least 2 million years, and is possibly derived from the ancestors of Woodhouse's scrub jay.

It measures 23 to 28 cm (9.1 to 11.0 in) in length, and weighs from 66 to 92 g (2.3 to 3.2 oz), with an average 80.2 g (2.83 oz). The wingspan of the jay is 33–36 cm (13–14 in). 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.

Ecology

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 being isolated from the mainland as an island ("Orange Island") 34 to 28 million years ago and somewhat harsh weather pattern, this habitat in isolation evolved to host, not only the Florida scrub jay endemic only to Florida but also a small assortment of very ancient 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. They have also been occasionally observed to eat other birds' eggs or nestlings, but this occurs rarely. They routinely cachethousands 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.