The Florida scrub-jay is native to North America. It has a strong black bill, blue head, and nape without a crest, a whitish forehead, and supercilium (a stripe on the head), blue bib, blue wings, grayish underparts, gray back, long blue tail, black legs, and feet. The Florida scrub-jay is the only species of bird endemic to the U.S. state of Florida and because of this, it is heavily sought by birders who travel from across the country to observe this unique species.
Florida scrub-jays are found only in Florida scrub habitat; it's an ecosystem that exists only in central Florida and in limited areas along the Atlantic coast. Here exist very ancient specific plants such as sand pine, sand live oak, myrtle oak, Chapman's oak, sandhill oak, Florida rosemary and various other hardy plants such as Eastern prickly pear.
Florida scrub-jays are social and very territorial. They live in family groups which consist of a breeding pair and their offspring. These families can range in size from 2 to 8. Fledglings remain in their parents' habitat for several years and help to rear young, watch for predators and defend territory against neighboring Florida scrub-jay family groups. Florida scrub-jays are active during the day and at night all family members roost together within their territory. When foraging, scrub jays usually hop, walk, run around in search of food or fly short distances catching insects on the wing. They routinely cache thousands of acorns a year, burying them just beneath the surface. The acorns are typically buried in the fall and consumed during the winter and spring. Florida scrub jays communicate with loud harsh shreeps or hiccup-like sounds made mainly by females and their song is composed of trills.
Florida scrub-jays are omnivores. They feed on a wide variety of acorns, seeds, peanuts, insects, tree frogs, turtles, snakes, lizards, and young mice. They may occasionally eat other birds' eggs or nestlings.
Florida scrub-jays are monogamous and form long-lasting pair bonds. Mating season usually occurs from March to June. The birds locate their nest in trees and build them from twigs and palm fibers. Clutches usually contain about 3 to 4 eggs which are incubated in about 17 days. The chicks hatch altricial; they are naked and helpless. Fledging occurs in 16 to 19 days and nestlings become independent when they are 10 weeks old. After about 2 to 3 years, the chicks leave their family group to form mating pairs of their own.
Florida scrub-jays are threatened mainly due to habitat loss for development and agriculture. They also suffer from the use of pesticides, vehicle strikes, human disturbance, and local predators.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total Florida scrub-jay population size is around 6,000-9,000 individuals, which is roughly 4,000-6,000 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.
Florida scrub-jays cache thousands of acorns that are often forgotten or missed and may germinate, making these little birds effective agents for the dispersal of a variety of oak trees.