Sunday, May 13, 2007

Scrub Jay Surprise

In the past, there were sighting of Florida Scrub Jays on the Wekiva Springs State Park property. Over the years the sights decresed and it was believed that the Jays had moved on. No reports were made for a year or more.

Near the end of our banding day today, however, we had a very pleasant surprise.

I was checking on the other volunteers since they hadn't returned for a while and found them out at net 24, the net at the end of the net lanes. They were struggling to remove a larger bird as I approached. It was immediately clear to me that this bird was indeed a Florida Scrub Jay.

In fact, Susan asked as I walked up, "Is this a Scrub Jay?!". Yep. Being a threatened species, we are supposed to let them go instead of banding them, but Bob Wheeler was in the groud today and had JUST gotten his permit to band this species for a project he will be working on in the future.

I got the bird out of the net and we all giddily headed back to the table to unveil our prize.

I handed the bag to Bob and announced that he should have it as he was the only one allowed to deal with it. All of the other folks stared at me with bewilderment.

Once he reached in and removed the bird, the quizzical expressions turned to stunned smiles. Wekiva's first Scrub Jay to be banded!

Bob determined that the bird was a female and this is consistant with dispersal movements of this species. Once a territory is established by a family and a new bird has to move on, it moves to a new area to start a new family. Can she be setting up stakes for a new colony here in Wekiva?

I hope so. Plans have been rumored to begin a series of prescibed burns in the park to make the conditions ripe for new growth. Perfect situations for Scrub Jays.

Time will tell.

I took her back to the area where she was caught, took a quick photo and released her. She flew to a nearby bush and preened for a bit and I headed back to the task of getting the nets down for the day.

Florida Scrub Jay

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