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North Florida Field Office

Florida Scrub-Jay Urban Survey Protocol - Appendix A

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Summary of Behavior of Florida Scrub-Jays

Florida scrub-jays have specific behaviors which are indicative of whether or not they are located within their territorial boundaries.  The summary here is taken from Woolfenden and Fitzpatrick (1996).  If any of these behaviors are noted when observing scrub-jays in an area, then the scrub-jays are located within an active territory.

Scrub-jays have an extensive vocabulary.  Rapid multiple weep calls are associated with territorial defense year-round but are highest in January through February (just before nesting) and August through October (after heavy molt and when dispersal is most common).  November through December and June through July are annual lows in frequency.  Territorial encounters eliciting vocal display are most common during early or mid-morning, but may occur any time during the day.  Territorial vocalizations are typically given from the tops of high shrubs or trees, especially near a territory boundary, or in flight toward a territorial intruder, and are usually loud.  Some examples follow:

Some nonvocal sounds of scrub-jays can also be interpreted as territorial behaviors:

Territorial behaviors of scrub-jays, in addition to those noted above, include:

Territorial spacing:

In short, territorial behaviors include any of the following:

Reference cited:

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, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

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Last modified March 25, 2009