FLORIDA SCRUB JAY

Florida Scrub Jay, the sunshine state's endemic bird

A VISIT TO FLORIDA WOULD NOT BE COMPLETE WITHOUT SEEING ITS SCRUB JAY! An early morning walk at one of my favourite sites for it produced a very co-operative pair along one of the trails through the flatwoods. They can be very tame and inquisitive and at times came too close to focus with the 500. With a declining population of 6,000 – 9,000 individuals it is threatened by destruction of its habitat for housing developments and the degradation of it owing to fire supression. Merritt Island was very birdy as usual in the early morning and other highlights included: a Peregrine Falcon, which had caught a small wader (probably a Dunlin) and proceeded to eat it in a tree; a steady southward passage of American White Pelicans; a pair of Hooded Mergansers and three willets. A gaudy yellow Pine Warbler was amongst the many Yellow-rumpeds, that I am told could well have started to move north again. A quick spin around Black Point Drive resulted in around 20 outrageously pink Roseate Spoonbills amongst the many herons and egrets feeding by the dykes. A couple of Bald Eagles kept watch over the large lagoons here and Black-bellied Plover was also new for this particular trip.

Florida might well be the 'sunshine state' and although it lived up to its tag again today there was a frost on the car this morning and a bitterly cold wind was still blowing from the northwest. The present cold snap has come as a shock to the system for many people here. An interesting birding trivia quiz question is to name the USA's other single state endemic birds (with the exception of Hawaii - that would be cheating). How many others can you name?

Florida Scrub Jay - Scrub Ridge Trail, Merritt Island

Peregrine Falcon, heading off after an early morning meal, with blood still on its thighs!