A Look at the Coming Week

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) - Oscar Scherer State Park, Florida

I have spent the last few days at my parents’ home in Orlando regrouping, finishing up a few projects, preparing for upcoming projects, and getting some good sleep.  It’s been a great break, but I am eager to get back into the field and that will be Monday at Archbold Biological Station in south central Florida where I will spend next week photographing Florida Scrub Jays.

If you are not from Florida, you may not know much about these birds, so I thought I would offer a little background.  They are found in a very specific scrub habitat that has become quite limited across the state due to development and urban encroachment and these small patches of habitat are the only place they are found in the world.  As an endemic species, they are on many of the most wanted lists for birders visiting Florida.

One of the most fun things about these birds is their tameness.  In the study tracts where I will be working, the birds will actually approach visitors, often landing on their heads and hands looking for peanut handouts.  This is also true at many of the other areas I’ve seen them throughout the state.  It makes for an interesting photographic challenge, as I’m not used to dealing with birds so incredibly close.

I’ll share one more tidbit, this one more biological.  The Florida Scrub Jay is a cooperative breeder.  This means that young birds do not attempt to breed as yearling birds, but instead stay in their parents’ territory and assist with territory defense, feeding, and raising the next year’s young.  The reasoning for this fascinating behavior is quite complex and I will be writing more about it in the coming week.

I will be spending the entire week working at Archbold and am unsure of Internet access and my ability to post.  So, while I will be writing posts, I’m unsure if I’ll be able to post them until I return the following week.  If the blog goes silent, you now know why and you can expect to see posts again starting February 8th or 9th when I return to Orlando. In the meantime, have a great week!

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