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Florida Scrub-Jay

Aphelocoma coerulescens ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: CORVIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Vulnerable

A bold and curious bird, the Florida Scrub-Jay can become hand-tame in areas where it comes in contact with people. Unfortunately, it is restricted to the rare oak scrub community of Florida, a habitat under constant threat of development, and is classified as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
9.1–11 in
23–28 cm
Wingspan
13–14.2 in
33–36 cm
Weight
2.3–3.2 oz
66–92 g
Other Names
  • Geai à gorge blanche (French)
  • Urraca azuleja de Florida (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Florida Scrub-Jay is a well-studied cooperative breeder, with most offspring staying with their parents to help them raise young for at least one year.
  • The Florida Scrub-Jay used to be considered part of one species, the Scrub Jay, together with the Western and Island scrub-jays. Genetic evidence showed that the Florida birds were genetically quite different from the western jays.
  • Individual members of a Florida Scrub-Jay family take turns watching for hawks while the rest of the family looks for food. If a dangerous hawk is seen, the sentinel gives an alarm call and everyone dives for cover. A different call alerts the family to snakes and other dangers on the ground, and the entire family will join in mobbing a terrestrial predator.
  • When not persecuted, and especially when provided with food, the Florida Scrub-Jay becomes very tame. It will readily perch on a person's hand, arm, or head to get food.
  • Because of its highly restricted choice of habitat and low dispersal ability, populations of the Florida Scrub-Jay have become very isolated. Jays from the Atlantic Coast, central Florida, and southwestern Florida differ in some of their vocalizations, despite being separated by less than 100 miles.

Habitat


Scrub

Restricted to Florida oak scrub and scrubby flatwoods found on prehistoric and current sand dunes. Found in scrub with patches of open sand and an open tree canopy. Disappears without periodic burning of habitat.

Food


Omnivore

Arthropods, acorns, and small vertebrates.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–6 eggs
Egg Description
Greenish with brownish spots concentrated near large end.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
Nest Description

Nest an open cup of twigs, lined with thick lining of palmetto fibers or rootlets. Nest placed in low dense shrub.

Nest Placement

Tree

Behavior


Ground Forager

Gleans insects from trees, shrubs, and ground. Harvests and hides (caches) thousands of acorns and other nuts. Holds food under feet to peck at it.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Vulnerable

Federally classified as Threatened because of severe habitat restriction to rare habitat that is under great development pressure. Fire suppression makes habitat unsuitable. Listed on the Audubon Watchlist.

Credits

  • Woolfenden, G. E., and J. W. Fitzpatrick. 1996. Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). In The Birds of North America, No. 228 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Florida Scrub-Jay Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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Srubland Survivors: Read about Florida Scrub-Jays in Living Bird magazine.