Monday, July 9, 2018

Scrub Walk, Venice Florida July 8th

We met my cousins, who are from Florida, at Oscar Scherer State Park for a guided "scrub walk."  The guide taught us a lot about the "scrubby flat-wood" habitat.  The main feature of this habitat is that it does not have a lot of trees, but instead has mostly "scrub" or low-lying bushes.  There were Pine trees, but not as many as there were in the surrounding areas.  In order to maintain the health of this habitat the Florida Forest Service sets "controlled fires."  These fires are set so the habitat remains low-lying scrub and does not become overly treed.  Also fire helps restore nutrients to the soil so the scrub habitat stays strong and healthy.

Scrub Habitat with perching Florida Scrub Jay

This habitat is especially important because it is the only place the endangered Florida Scrub Jay lives.  Preserving the scrub habitat is very important because the Scrub Jays are very picky about where they live.  They do not nest in forests or places with trees because these places contain predators.  They prefer their scrub habitat to be 20 to 30% sand so they can easily spot snakes and other ground predators.  They live in families from five to seven birds, and they group together.  They are very curious, and they always make sure there is a sentinel on duty.  This means one bird is always on the lookout for predators, and they even have special calls to identify if the danger is on ground or in the air.

Florida Scrub Jay on lookout duty

It is important to stay aware of development issues and raise awareness so this rare Jay can have a better chance of survival.  We also learned that Scrub Jays do not fly very far; they only fly about 2 to 3 miles, so it is very unlikely they will ever leave their habitat in Oscar Scherer or elsewhere, in order to find a new home.  They will just disappear.

A good look at the blue patches on the breast.

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