Monday, May 11, 2015

Jay watch at Hickey Creek

In my never ending interest in learning and exploring, I enlisted to participate in a Jay watch citizen Science training session. 
We met up at Hickey Creek in Alva for a field session which was followed by classroom session during lunch. In the process we learned the cooperative behavior of Florida Scrub-jay groups,and how to identify adults versus juvenile. Come and take a look.
Along Bateman Rd - a bull watched us as we slowly drove by.

We met up with a group and set out on the trail.

This is prime Scrub Jay habitat - we are hoping to spot a few of them.

One curious fellow came in and he was soon

joined by another.

Notice how they choose a prime spot to look at us while we squint trying to see them.

Did you know that Florida scrub-jays are the only avian species occurring only in Florida? They are also one of the most sedentary and habitat-restricted birds in North America. Although they may live up to 15 years, most never travel more than a few Kilometers from their birthplace. Optimal habitat consists of 60% trees and shrub of one and two meters in height, 20% open ground and no more than 20% pines and canopied trees over three meters in height.

To maintain optimal habitat for jays, historically fire-maintained scrub needs to be burned every 10 to 15 years.

The Jays are omnivores. For most of the year, jays eat mostly grasshoppers, crickets and caterpillars but they will also take spiders, tree frogs, lizards, small snakes, mice, eggs and berries. During the fall and winter their diet consists mainly of acorns. A scrub-jay will bury between 6,500 & 8,000 acorns each year. They recover and consume about 75% of these acorns.

One tidbit of info that I learn is that "peanuts and other foods" that people use to lure scrub-jays are really bad for their digestive system and it is also illegal since the bird is federally protected. Also, Jays can become dependent on humans for food, lose any fear they may have of humans and change the timing of reproduction in a negative way.

The field standardized Jay Watch survey will take place from mid June to mid July, stay tuned.

After our training session and early lunch, we took the back roads and pulled along the side to observe some of the farm animals.

Llamas, Sheeps, Rams and Cows are not my usual vista and I enjoy watching them.

What's not to love? Any day spent outdoors and surrounded with nature makes for a very fine day indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment