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JAY WATCHER

PROGRAM
F L O R I DA
Audubon of Martin County has formed a Jay
Watcher Program. The objectives of the organiza-
S c r u b - Ja y
Typical leg bands
tion are to:

1) Locate all Martin County Florida Scrub-jay (FSJ) To better understand the genetic diversity and the behav-
families that reside outside state & national parks. ior of local Scrub-jay populations, an intensive banding
program is in place. Banded birds have one or two col-
2) Protect and preserve these family territories wher- ored bands on each leg. If you see a banded bird please
ever possible and encourage the creation of viable, report the colors (in the order: top then bottom band on
new territories as well as the restoration of derelict bird's right leg; top then bottom band on bird's left leg)
sites in order to provide stepping stones between together with the date, time, location and any informa-
major colonies. tion about the birds' condition or behavior to: Audubon
of Martin County (contact details below).
3) Organize and support residents wishing to pro-
How you can help:
tect their local FSJs.
Contact Audubon of Martin County with any
4) Ensure appropriate federal, state and local gov- Florida Scrub-Jay sightings.
ernment department decision makers know the loca-
tion of all FSJ territories and take appropriate action Join Jay Watchers.
before any proposed development or activity occurs Make a contribution to our Jay Watchers' Fund.
that might adversely affect these sites.

5) Educate Martin County residents about the FSJ.

6) Promote acquisition of habitat critical for FSJ


survival.
7) Better understand the stresses that urbanization
brings to our FSJ families & develop management
techniques promoting their long term survival.
Data from AoMC Christmas Bird Counts
Audubon of Martin County, Inc.
Blue Jays

2007
Typical Scrub Habitat

A publication of:
Audubon of Martin County Inc
Scrub-jays 621 SE Palm Beach Road
Stuart FL 34994
772.288.2637
Phone: 772.288.2637
WEB: audubonmartincounty.org
FLORIDA SCRUB-JAY
Aphelocoma coerulescens
While Florida Scrub-jays are best known for their Typically Florida
consumption and caching of acorns they are, in fact, Scrub-jays will not
true omnivores. The bulk of their diet consists of in- travel more than
sects (grasshoppers, crickets and larval butterflies and about 5 miles from
moths) and small vertebrates (frogs, toads, lizards, their birth territory.
snakes and rodents). This limited disper-
sal was not disad-
The Florida Scrub-jay like other members of the Corvi- vantageous until
dae family (crows, blue jays, ravens) is clever and in- intense develop-
quisitive, however unlike other Corvids the Florida ment destroyed and
Scrub-jay has not yet shown a great deal of adaptability fragmented 93% of
with respect to its habitat requirements. Almost with- their historical
out exception Scrub-jays live in white sand/oak scrub. scrub habitat. To-
This almost tree-less landscape requires frequent burn- day only a handful
ing to maintain optimum conditions for Scrub-jays, as of sizable Scrub-jay Courtesy Florida Breeding Bird Atlas
well as for a number of other endangered plant and colonies are left in
animal species. Martin County; these are primarily in public lands. A
Even before the first Europeans, scrub habitat was limited number of birds have also managed to survive in
limited. To make the best use of available resources small plots within built-up areas. Major Florida Scrub-Jay
the Florida Scrub-jay developed a highly territorial and colonies are increasingly separated by distances greater
co-operative breeding lifestyle: territorial boundaries than a Scrub-Jay will typically fly. It is important to pro-
remain fairly stable from year to year, birds typically tect the few remaining urban territories that may act as
mate for life, and the offspring 'stay at home' as helpers stepping stones between major colonies. These urban
until a mating opportunity opens up in a nearby terri- families facilitate genetic exchange and provide a seed
tory. These strategies ensure that all suitable habitat is bank of birds should one or more of the major colonies
divided up into family-size units and that a breeding be wiped out by disease or a natural catastrophe.
age bird is always available to fill vacancies.

Adult Florida Scrub-jay

The Florida Scrub-Jay is a threatened species that


is found only in Florida. Often mistaken for young
blue jays, the Florida Scrub-jay lacks the bold black
and white markings and head crest of the blue jay.
Its more muted blue and gray plumage blends re-
markably well into the scrub oak and sand pine
landscape that is the bird’s primary habitat. Juve-
niles have a mousy brown head and neck until the
end of their first summer when they molt into their
adult plumage. In adulthood male and female Juvenile Florida Scrub-jay
plumage is identical; the genders can only be distin-
guished by behavior. Photo by Donna Oddy

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