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Florida Scrub Jay
 Aphelocoma coerulescens

 Passeriforme Order - Corvidae family

Length: 28 cm ; Weight: 75-85 g

LONGEVITY : up to 15 years

Florida Scrub jay is the only species of bird endemic to the U.S. State of Florida.

Florida Scrub Jay is mainly blue and white, with long tail and pale underparts.
It has dull blue head, neck, wings and tail, and white throat, edged with a blue-grey bib. Forehead is white. It lacks crest. Back and underparts (chest, belly and vent) are greyish-white.
Strong bill is black. Eyes are dark brown to black. Legs and feet are black. 
Both sexes are similar.

Juvenile has brown upperparts, from dull brown to dark brown.

Florida Scrub Jay utters varied calls, including raspy, hoarse notes. The most common call is a guttural “quay-quay-quay”.
Alarm call is a screech scold, a grating repeated note, given from shrub top to attract other jays when a predator approaches.
During territorial defence, it gives attack growls, short and harsh calls, indicating imminent contact during fight. 

Florida Scrub Jay lives in Florida scrub habitat. It is an ecosystem found only in central Florida, characterized by nutrient – poor soil, occasional drought, and wild fires. Very specific plants live there, making the Florida Scrub Jay habitat.
Florida Scrub Jay lives only in Florida where it is resident. This bird and its habitat are endemic to the State.

Florida Scrub Jay is omnivorous. Its preferred food is acorn. It gathers several thousands of acorns per year, burying them for storing food, just beneath the surface of the sand. It “caches” acorns in fall, and eats them in winter and spring. But most of these acorns germinate, giving a large variety of oak trees.
When it forages, Florida Scrub Jay hops or runs about, under and through shrubbery. It also follows escaping preys by hopping, or flying short distances. It may rapidly walk short distances.

When it performs sustained flight, Florida Scrub Jay does several beats, interspersed with brief glides. It performs wonderful agile flight among shrubbery. During territorial fights, it performs undulating flight accompanied by flapping noise. It usually performs relatively short flights.

Female probably selects the nest-site, solicited by male. Nest is usually located in low dense shrub, at the edge of clump, under vegetation. It is built by mates, delivering material and building the structure. Female shapes the cup by pressing her body against the central bowl. It is an open cup, made with twigs, rootlets, and lined with plant fibres or tiny rootlets.
Female usually lays 3 to 4 greenish eggs, spotted with cinnamon. Incubation lasts about 16 to 19 days, by female which has a large brood patch. Male defends the nest, and it is often seen near the nest.
Young hatch without adult assistance. Eggshells are carried off. Altricial chicks are naked, with yellow bill and legs. Body feathers appear at about 9 days. Female broods them for most of the day, or provides them some shade if necessary.
Young are fed by parents and helpers, and adults feed all fledglings equally. Young fledge at about 18 days, and return to perch close to the nest. They usually remain at least one year in their natal territory. They can fly short distances at about 25 days of age, and they fly at 32 days.
This species usually produces one brood per season, occasionally two.

Florida Scrub Jay is omnivorous, feeding on wide variety of acorns, seeds, peanuts, berries, insects (grasshoppers, crickets, and caterpillars), spiders, tree frogs (hyla femoralis), snakes, lizards, bird eggs, nestlings and young mice.

Florida Scrub Jay is declared threatened due to habitat loss. Scrub areas where this species lives is the preferred for human habitation and the Florida Scrub Jay habitat is disappearing, converted in residential and commercial areas.
Pesticides, roads and house pets are also important threats.
Florida Scrub Jay is faithful to its territory, and highly territorial, and the species can’t be displaced for another range. Families stay together for several years in the same territory, and they are not able to adapt to another place.
Florida Scrub jay is also preyed upon by snakes, birds of prey, bobcats and domestic cats.

Fr: Geai à gorge blanche
All : Buschhäher
Esp : Urraca de los Matorrales
Ital : Ghiandaia di macchia
Nd : Struikgaai
Russe :  Голубая кустарниковая сойка
Sd : Snårskrika

Pictures by Steve Garvie
Son site:RAINBIRDER Photo galleries

Pictures by Bob Moul
Nature Photography

Texte de Nicole Bouglouan


FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA by National Geographic Society - National Geographic Society - ISBN: 0792274512

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

Wikipedia (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

All About Birds (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)


What Bird-The ultimate Bird Guide (Mitchell Waite)

BirdLife International (BirdLife International)


Home page

Page Family Corvidae

Page Passeriforme Order

Summary cards


Florida Scrub Jay remains in dense cover on windy days. At night, it roosts in low, dense vegetation, and family members sleep in the same area within the territory.
Defence of territory includes sometimes physical attacks, usually initiated by resident breeding male. They grapple with strong toes and peck with bills, and often end up lying on sides, as they clutch each other with both feet.

About dominance, males dominate females, and breeders dominate nonbreeders, older dominate younger. Juveniles join the family hierarchy during their first summer. Within a family, dominance hierarchy is clear, and conflicts are rare.
Florida Scrub jay performs flight displays, mainly engaged by breeding pair during territorial displays. We find several kinds of displays.

Lateral display occurs on the ground, between two neighbouring male breeders when they are too close from each other, at about one metre of one another. They adopt crouched posture with stiff legs, and hop sideway towards the other jay, with spread tail tilted towards opponent.

Threat display shows the male with compressed body plumage, but with fluffed feathers on neck and head sides, and nape, but with forehead feathers compressed, giving the appearance of “flat eared head”! Dominant male may also “stand tall” with bill pointed downwards at opponent or subordinate.

Courtship displays include courtship feeding, sharing watching and defence of territory, and close proximity. Displays are almost similar to lateral display, and male walks or hops around female with widely fanned tail, tilted towards female. Male may offer nest material to female, maybe to stimulate building.

Florida Scrub Jays are permanently monogamous, and they mate for life. They are cooperative breeders, with one breeding pair and up to six prebreeders. Helpers participate in territory defence and feeding nestlings and fledglings.