Florida Scrub Jay

Florida Scrub Jay

The Florida scrub-jay is a loyal and social Florida native

It’s the state’s only endemic bird, which means the Florida scrub-jay is found nowhere else, and its need for a specific habitat is one reason why scrub-jay numbers are declining. The only bird species that requires a sandy, scrubby habitat to survive is the Florida scrub-jay.

As the state’s human population has grown, development has increased and the scrub-jays’ choice habitat has become more limited. A scrub-jay family’s permanent territory averages about 22 to 24 acres, which makes it challenging for young birds to find suitable space for a family.

The species is federally listed as threatened, in large part due to of loss of habitat and decades of fire suppression that allowed scrub habitat to become overgrown. Prescribed burning helps maintain the bare ground and shrub height vital for scrub-jay survival. The current Florida scrub-jay population is estimated at about 7,700 to 9,300 birds.

The sandy habitat necessary for scrub-jays is protected by a number of Florida state parks:

Help the Florida Scrub-Jay

  • Provide habitat for scrub-jays by planting and protecting scrub patches on your property. Maintain a maximum height of 10 feet for vegetation if you live on or near a scrub-jay habitat.
  • Protect scrub-jays from family pets, especially cats. Encourage passage and strict enforcement of community leash laws for dogs and cats.
  • Restrict use of pesticides. They can limit or contaminate the insects consumed by jays.
  • Support establishment of scrub-jay preserves. Managed habitat is essential for protecting the species.
  • Do not hand-feed them; it is illegal and a danger to their well-being.