Florida is known for its sandy beaches, sunny weather and the best in theme parks but most folks are not acquainted with Florida’s wild side. Specifically the Florida Scrub Jay which is considered by some as the true “State” Bird. This little blue bird brings a sence of awe to all who visit it but it also commands a warning that few heed.
Florida Scrub Jays are native to this state and this state alone, they live in Florida Scrub habitats such as Sand Oak, Sand Pine and Chapmans Oak and are considered by most to be a very docile. The Federal Government classifies them to be a vulnerable species and that is why they remain on the endangered species list. Once numbered in the tens of thousands this lovable little creatures now barely lists 4000 mating pairs through out the state. As dire as it may be, everyone who loves this little guy can also help in the solution that insures the survival of this lovely bird.
First and foremost, consider the habitat that it lives in and do what ever it takes to preserve it. Wildfires do major damage to the scrub oak than construction so think about that campfire and its placement. Next, think twice about feeding this bold friendly blue ball of feathers. Sure they will love you if you carry a nut into their habitat but that action will cause them to be dependant on humans for part of their food. I spent the better of the morning the other day with these birds and trust me they have plenty of food to eat. I understand the temptation to feed them and get close to nature in the process but, considering the cost, be patient and they will reward you with the obligatory head landing just to say hello.
With respect on photographing these little guys, I used my 300mm f4 but found it too long in most of my images. I settled on my 70-200mm with a 1.4 TC and that did the job just fine. You could use a point and shoot if that is all you have and if you sit still long enough they will come to you and you can shoot til your heart’s content.
Remember, as the higher species, man has a responsibility to watch over the lesser creation. Not doing so will cause our this favorite woodland creature to be lost forever; 4000 mating pairs may sound like a lot but they can be gone in a blink.