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Florida Scrub-Jay

A bird that evolved with its habitat

Thousands of years ago, rising sea levels isolated much of the Florida peninsula as an island. During that long isolation, a unique oak-scrub ecosystem developed. The Florida Scrub-Jay is one of many special animals and plants that evolved with this habitat. Because they depend on acorns during winter, Florida Scrub-Jays can survive only in oak scrub. Populations have declined because the birds have lost much of their special habitat to citrus groves, pastures, and development. Happily, many birds are now protected by the Archbold Biological Station and other preserves. But there's still more to be done!

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Transcript: 

BirdNote®
Florida Scrub-Jay
Written by Dennis Paulson

This is BirdNote!

[Florida Scrub-Jay calls]

One of the rarest natural habitats in America is found in Florida. Thousands of years ago, rising sea levels isolated much of the Florida peninsula as an island. During that long isolation, a unique oak-scrub ecosystem developed. The Florida Scrub-Jay is one among many special animals and plants that evolved with this habitat now protected by the Archbold Biological Station. [Florida Scrub-Jay calls]

Eastern Towhees [Eastern Towhee (Florida subspecies) song] and Loggerhead Shrikes are common in the dense scrub habitat [juvenile Loggerhead Shrikes calling].  But unlike the towhee and the shrike, Florida Scrub-Jays are found nowhere else.  

Because they’re fascinating birds and quite tame around humans, the jays have been studied for many years. They live in family groups, the young of the previous year helping to raise the current young. This altruistic behavior seemed surprising until studies with banded birds showed that one of the young would immediately take the place of an adult that died. [Florida Scrub-Jays calling]

Because they depend on acorns during winter, Florida Scrub-Jays can survive only in oak scrub. Populations have declined by 90% because the birds have lost much of their special habitat to citrus groves, pastures, and development. Now people are working hard to protect what remains. [Florida Scrub-Jay calls]

BirdNote celebrates groups everywhere that are improving bird habitat. Learn more at birdnote.org. 

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Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Calls of Florida Scrub-Jay [138375] recorded by G.F. Budney and [105737] by G.A. Keller; Call notes form Eastern Towhee [105381] recorded by G.A.Keller; and Loggerhead Shrike [105710] recorded by G.A. Keller; group of Florida Scrub-Jays calling [13036] at Archbold Station by K. Worden.  
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org  March 2014/2018  Narrator: Michael Stein 

ID#       FLSJ-01-2013-02-06 FLSJ-01

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