Where to see an Endangered Florida Scrub-Jay, One of the Smartest Birds on the Planet.

L. Cane

If you are lucky enough to see a Florida scrub-jay from far away, you might mistake it for a blue jay. If you have a chance to examine this beautiful bird more closely, you'll see that, although it is similar in color to the blue jay, it's missing the blue jay's crest. The scrub-jay is endemic, which means you'll only see it in Florida.

What Makes the Florida Scrub-Jay So Unique?: Scrub-jays belong to the same family as crows, magpies, and jays, and they're among the smartest birds in the world. According to Wingspan Optics, scrub-jays are among only a few animals who plan their actions based on how they might feel in the future.

The scrub-jay is also a songbird who lives in extended family groups. The fledglings stay with their parents to continue to pitch in. The entire group bands together for predator monitoring. If a predator is spotted, the scrub-jay on guard will alert the others, and they'll collectively attack the intruder. They are nonmigratory and stay in the same area year after year.

How Many Scrub-Jays are Left? Why are They Endangered?: According to National Geographic, there are between 2,500 and 10,000 scrub-jays within the Florida population. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the most prevalent reason that scrub-jays are endangered is the loss of habitat through development. The bird is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Federal Endangered Species Act, and Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule. Prescribed burning is undertaken to try to help preserve the habitat.

Where Can You See Scrub-Jays?: These birds like a scrubby, sandy habitat. According to Florida State Parks.org, many of Florida's State Parks are good places to see this bird, including:

  • Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park at 4335 Firetower Rd, Haines City, FL 33844.
  • Beker - South Fork at 20007 Sr 64 Bradenton, FL 34202.
  • Jonathan Dickinson State Park at 16450 SE Federal Hwy, Hobe Sound, FL 33455. (This park reportedly has the most scrub-jay sightings in the state.)
  • Lake June-in-Winter Scrub State Park at 630 Daffodil St, Lake Placid, FL 33852
  • North Peninsula State Park at 40 High Bridge Rd, Ormond Beach, FL 32176
  • Rock Springs Run State Reserve at 30601 County Rd 433, Sorrento, FL 32776
  • Savannas Preserve State Park at 1400 E Midway Rd, Fort Pierce, FL 34982
  • Seabranch Preserve State Park at 6093 SE Dixie Hwy, Stuart, FL 34997
  • Oscar Scherer State Park at 1843 S Tamiami Trail, Osprey, FL 34229

Florida wildlife viewing also suggests the Ocala National Forest, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and the Lyonia Environmental Center in Deltona.

Keep in mind that, although the birds are sometimes quite friendly, it is illegal to feed the scrub jay in Florida. It is said to negatively affect their breeding cycle. So it is recommended that you respectfully look but do not disturb. Here is an interesting video that shows newborn scrub-jays that eventually leave the nest.

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