Florida Scrub-Jay

Aphelocoma coerulescens
Florida Scrub-jay

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Facts About Florida Scrub-Jay

* The Florida Scrub-jay is the only species of bird found exclusively in Florida

* Fewer than 8,000 Florida Scrub-Jays remain in the world

* The most critical threat to scrub-jays is loss of habitat