DISTRIBUTION, HABITAT, AND SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE
FLORIDA SCRUB JAY, WITH A DISCUSSION OF THE EVOLUTION OF
COOPERATIVE BREEDING IN NEW WORLD JAYS
JEFFREY A. COX
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FUL~FILLMENT"I OF THE REQUIREMENTS
'FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PZHILOSOPHIY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
To my wife,
I thank the following people who provided information on the
distribution of Florida Scrub Jays or other forms of assistance: K.
Alvarez, M. Allen, P. C. Anderson, T. H. Below, C. W. Biggs, B. B.
Black, M. C. Bowman, R. J. Brady, D. R. Breininger, G. Bretz, D.
Brigham, P. Brodkorb, J. Brooks, M. Brothers, R. Brown, M. R. Browning,
S. Burr, B. S. Burton, P. Carrington, K. Carstens, S. L. Cawley, Mrs.
T. S. Christensen, E. S. Clark, J. L. Clutts, A. Conner, W. Courser, J.
Cox, R. Crawford, H. Cruickshank, E. Cutlip, J. Cutlip, R. Delotelle,
M. DeRonde, C. Dickard, W. and H. Dowling, T. Engstrom, S. B. Fickett,
J. W. Fitzpatrick, K. Forrest, D. Freeman, D. D. Fulghum, K. L.
Garrett, C. Geanangel, W. George, T. Gilbert, D. Goodwin, J. Greene, S.
A. Grimes, W. Hale, F. Hames, J. Hanvey, F. W. Harden, J. W. Hardy, G.
B. Hemingway, Jr., 0. Hewitt, B. Humphreys, A. D. Jacobberger, A. F.
Johnson, J. B. Johnson, H. W. Kale II, L. Kiff, J. N. Layne, R. Lee, R.
Loftin, F. E. Lohrer, J. Loughlin, the late C. R. Mason, J. McKinley,
J. R. Miller, R. R. Miller, B. L. Mink, K. Morgan, K. Morrison, M.
Mullis, R. Mumme, J. Naylor, D. Nelson, S. A. Nesbitt, H. J. Nett, D).
M. Niles, 0. Owre, R. Payne, J. K. Pearlman, C. H. Plockelman, M.
Plymire, J. and H. Quincy, G. Raweliffe, C. F. and J. T. Reinholtz, J.
V. Remsen, R. W. Repenning, H. Rivers, R. E. Roberts, L. R. Salata, J.
F. Sandella, J. Schonewald, J. Sharpe, M. Simons, L. F. Snyder, S. D.
Stedman, H. M. Stevenson, J. Stevenson, Mrs. E. H. Stickney, I. J.
Stout, P. W. Sykes, J. G. Taylor, Jr., W. K. Taylor, C. Thorndike, M.
B. Trautman, D. K. Voigts, L. H. Walkinshaw, T. Webber, M. Welton, L.
E. Williams, Jr., and G. E. Woolfenden. Special thanks go to J. N.
Layne for permitting to me work at Archbold Biological Station, and to
the staffs of the Lake George and Seminole Ranger Districts (listed
individually above), Ocala National Forest, for permission to work in
the Forest and other assistance. J. W. Hardy, H. W. Kale II, T.
Webber, K. Winnett-Murray, and the members of my committee--M. ~L.
Crump, C. A. Lanciani, J. E. Lloyd, and B. K. McNab--read and commented
on various forms of this manuscript. I extend my deepest appreciation
to J. W. Hardy and to my wife, Cristy Ann Cox, for their continued
support and encouragement. Funds for tais research were provided by
the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, the Frank M. Chapman
Memorial Fund of the American Museum of Natural History, and the
Florida Ornithological Society.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .........,................................ iii
ABSTRACT ... . .. ..................................... vii
CHAPTER 1--GENERAL INTRODUCTION ............................ 1
CHAPTER 2--STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE FLORIDA SCRUB JAY 3
Procedures ..................,........................ 5
County Summaries ...................................... 10
Unspecified Localities ...........................,.. 12
Questionable Localities .........................,... 12
Alachua County ..................................... 16
Brevard County ..................................... 18
Broward County ..................................... 32
Charlotte County ................................... 34
Citrus County ...................................... 36
Clay County .....................................,... 38
Collier County ..................................... 40
Dade County .....................................,... 42
DeSoto County ...................................... 44
Dixie County (see Gilchrist County)
Duval County ....................................... 46
Flagler County ..................................... 48
Gilchrist County .....,.............................. 50
Glades County ...................................... 50
Hardee County ...................................... 53
Hendry County ...................................... 53
Hernando County ...........,......................... 54
Highlands County ................................... 55
Hillsborough County ................................ 59
Indian River County ................................ 61
Lake County ................,...,,,..,............... 63
Lee County ......................................... 66
Levy County ........................................ 68
Manatee County ..................................... 72
Marion County ...................................... 74
Martin County ...................................... 78
Ocala National Forest .............................. 79
Okeechobee County .................................. 86
Orange County ...................................... 86
Osceola County ..................................... 90
Palm Beach County .................................. 90
Panhandle Gulf Coast ............................... 93
Pasco County ................................,....... 94
Pinellas County ......................,.............. 95
Polk County ........................................ 97
Putnam County ...........................,........... 99
St. Johns County ..,................................. 100
St. Lucie County ....,...................,..........., 102
Sarasota County ............,........................ 103
Seminole County .........................,........... 105
Sumter County .....,................................. 106
Volusia County ..................................... 107
Discussion .......................................... 111
CHAPTER 3--MANAGEMENT OF FLORIDA SCRUB JAY POPULATIONS ..... 119
Procedures .................,......................... 120
Descriptions of Study Sites ........................... 124
Results ............................................ 127
Discussion ..........................,................ 131
CHAPTER 4--FLORIDA SCRUB JAYS IN A TRANSITORY ENVIRONMENT,
OCALA NATIONAL FOREST ................,.............. 154
Procedures ....,...................................... 157
Results ........................................ .... 157
Discussion ....,...................................... 163
Territory Acquisition .............................. 163
Group Size ......................................... 173
CHAPTER 5--BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY OF BLUE JAYS IN FLORIDA ...... 177
Procedures .......................................... 177
Results ............................................ 179
Discussion ...............................,........... 181
CHAPTER 6--EVOLUTION OF COOPERATIVE BREEDING IN
NEW WORLD JAYS ........................................ 194
Social Systems in Aphelocoma .......................... 194
Jays in Disturbed or Changing Habitats .........,....... 198
Is Helping Behavior Normal and Adaptive? .............. 200
Summary and Conclusions ...........,.................... 208
LITERATURE CITED ............................,............. 211
APPENDIX--LOCATIONS OF FLORIDA SCRUB JAY POPULATIONS,
1980-1983 ........................................... 225
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............,............................ 259
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
DISTRIBUTION, HABITAT, AND SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE
FLORIDA SCRUB JAY, VITH A DISCUSSION OF THE EVOLUTION OF
COOPERATIVE BREEDING IN NEW WORLD JAYS
Jeffrey A. Cox
Chairman: John William Hardy
Major Department: Zoology
Florida Scrub Jays (FSJs) have declined significantly in numbers
because of habitat destruction. FSJs have disappeared entirely from
six counties in Florida, and their numbers have decreased substantially
in seven additional counties. I estimated the total population size in
1982 to be 15,330-22,530 birds, of which 13,100-20,310 were on
protected sites. FSJ numbers will continue to decline as the
commercial development of Florida proceeds, but the total population
size should stabilize at about 12,780-19,780 birds in a few decades.
The greatest densities of FSJs are in areas with oak thickets 1-3
m tall covering 50-75% of the ground, 10-50% bare ground, and scattered
small trees. Some FSJ populations, however, are found in areas with
very few oaks, demonstrating their ability to survive in marginal
habitats. Fire is effective, and sometimes essential, in rmaintaining
the habitat in a suitable condition. Mechanical clearing of
vegetation, including clear-cutting in Ocala National Forest (0NF), can
be an effective substitute for fire.
Scrub Jays in ONF inhabit stands of sand pine scrub clearcut from
1965-1978. Clearcuts can support FS~s only from about 3-5 to 12-15
years after clearing. By the time a young male FSJ is old enough to
claim part of his parents' territory, the habitat may no longer be
suitable. Because of the continual creation of new habitat, FSJs in
ONF are found in smaller groups than those at Archbold Biological
Blue Jays in Florida typically breed as pairs, but one nest was
found that was attended by two males and one female. Behavior o'f the
adults at this nest suggests that this incident was unusual. Florida
Blue Jays do not defend territories, but have broadly overlapping home
The evolution of cooperative breeding in New ;lorld jays is
discussed. Some of the observed forms of cooperative breeding may not
be adaptive, but represent either responses to life in heavily
disturbed habitats or the expression of normal parental behavior before
a bird becomes a breeder.
Florida is something of a mecca for birdwatchers. Many species of
birds are found in Florida that are found nowhere else in eastern North
America. Among these is the Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens
coerulescens), a disjunct, relict race of a species that is widespread
in the western United States and Mexico.
Florida Scrub Jays are restricted to a distinctive, oak-dominated
shrubby habitat known as the scrub. The scrub itself has little
commercial value, but it occurs in situations that bestow tremendous
value upon it. On the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida, much scrub
has been cleared to make way for various types of housing developments:
motels, hotels, condominiums, and apartment complexes. Some scrubs
farther inland have been cleared for housing developments, and many
more have been cleared and replaced with citrus groves. As a result of
widespread habitat destruction, the number of Florida Scrub Jays has
decreased considerably (Woolfenden 1978a).
Florida Scrub Jays are cooperative breeders. In most species of
birds, the young of the year leave their parents as soon as they can
feed themselves. Young Florida Scrub Jays do not soon leave their
parents, but remain with them for 2-5 years and assist in raising their
younger siblings (Woolfenden 1973, 1975, 1981).
This disserta~tion consists of several parts, following a certain
logical sequence. The greatest number of pages (Chapter 2 and Appendixl)
is devoted to an investigation of the extent to which Florida Scrub Jay
populations have declined and their prospects for future survival. I
also investigated the relation between habitat structure and Scrub Jay
population density so that I could make valid recommendations for
managing Florida Scrub Jay populations (Chapter 3). During the course
of that field work, I discovered that Scrub Jays in Ocala National
Forest (ONF) do not occupy stable habitat as they do farther south in
Florida where their social structure has been closely studied. At ONF,
Scrub Jays inhabit areas that were cleared of sand pines roughly 4-15
years ago. Such habitat is transient, forcing Scrub Jays to move from
place to place as the habitat changes. The effects of this transient
habitat on Scrub Jay behavior are discussed in Chapter 4.
Cooperative breeding by New World jays has attracted considerable
attention in recent years. Besides the Scrub Jay, one other species of
jay is found in Florida--the Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata). As an
outgrowth of my interest in Scrub Jays, I undertook a limited study of
Blue Jay behavioral ecology, to determine the breeding system of Blue
Jays at Gainesville, Florida (Chapter 5).
Finally, I have reviewed certain aspects of habitat use and
demography in New World jays in an effort to understand the evolution of
social behavior in these birds (Chapter 6). This chapter pulls together
information from the preceding parts of this dissertation along with
information obtained from the literature on other jay species.
STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE FLORIDA SCRUB JAY
The Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens coerulescens) is
aptly named, as it has only once been positively recorded outside of
Florida (on Jekyll Island, Georgia; Moore 1975) and is only
occasionally seen away from the Florida scrub habitat (Sprunt 1946;
Westcott 1970; Uoolfenden 1973; pers. obs.). Sprunt (1946) wrote that
the Scrub Jay "is so partial to the vegetation it inhabits that it is
utterly useless to look for it anywhere else" (p. 78). The Florida
Scrub Jay is the only bird that is restricted to the Florida scrub.
Florida Scrub Jays have probably been decreasing in numbers since
Europeans first settled Florida, but the decline was first noted by
Byrd (1927) and Grimes (1940). Since then, several authors have
commented on the decline (Grimes 1943; Early 1952; Longstreet
1954; Sprunt 1954, 1958; Brigham 1973; Austin 1976; Uoolfenden
1978a; Cruickshank 1980). The Florida Scrub Jay is listed as
"Threatened" by both the Florida Committee on Rare and Endangered
Plants and Animals (Kale 1978a) and the Florida Game and Fresh Water
Fish Comrmission (FGFWFC 1981), but the extent of the decline has been
This study was undertaken to determine the past and present
distributions of the Florida Scrub Jay and prospects for its continued
In general, Scrub Jay habitat consists of dense thickets of oaks
less than 3 m in height, interspersed with bare sand where the jays
cache acorns and forage for other food items (Westcott 1970; Woolfenden
1973; pers. obs.).
The scrub habitat occurs only on fine, white, well drained sands.
This type of sand occurs along present coastlines in Florida and in
dunes deposited during the past when sea levels were much higher than
at present (Laessle 1958, 1968). The most important ancient dune
systems are found near the 30-foot, 100-foot, and 150-foot contour
levels and include the Atlantic coastal ridge along the Atlantic coast
of Plorida, the Lake Wales Ridge in Polk and Highlands Counties, and
the extensive sand dunes of Ocala National Forest.
Scrub occurs as a variety of plants associations, and a variety of
names has been used by different authors to describe the different
associa tions. The type of scrub most commonly occupied by Scrub Jays I
call oak scrub. It consists of a single layer of evergreen shrubs,
usually dominated by three species of oaks--myrrle oak (Quercus
myrtifolia), sand live oak (Q. geminata), and Chapman oak
(Q. chapmanii). I refer to these three species collectively as scrub
oaks. Other species common in oak scrub include crookedwood (Lyonia
ferruginea), silkbay (Persea humilis), rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides),
scrub palmetto (Sabal etonia), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), and
Garberia fruticosa (no common name). Trees and herbaceous vegetation
are lacking in oak scrub, which was referred to as "scrubby flatwoods"
by Laessle (1942) and Woolfenden (1969, 1970, 1973). Sand pine scrub
and slash pine scrub have shrub layers like that of oak scrub, plus
canopies of trees, either sand pine (Pinus clausa) or slash pine
(P. elliottii). Open sand pine or slash pine scrub has less than 50%
canopy cover by trees over 3 m tall. Scrub Jays are rarely found as
residents in habitats with more than about 50% canopy cover. Turkey
oak serub, palmetto scrub, and rosemary scrub are oak scrubs with large
numbers of turkey oaks (Q. laevis), palmettoes, and rosemary bushes,
I. J. Stout (MS) mapped the terrestrial plant communities of
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station and classified Scrub Jay habitats as "flatwoods," "coastal
scrub," and "coastal strand." "Flatwoods" have most of the same plant
species as oak scrub, but herbs are frequent and slash pines may or may
not be present. "Coastal scrub" is dense oak scrub dominated by myrtle
oak. "Coastal strand" is a narrow band of vegetation found just behind
the beachfront dunes; it is similar to coastal scrub but is dominated
by saw palmetto.
Austin (1976) provides a good, general overview of the scrub
vegetation and its associated animals. More detailed discussions may
be found in Harper (1913, 1915, 1921, 1927), Laessle (1942, 1958,
1968), and Veno (1976).
The historical distribution of Scrub Jays in Florida was assessed
in several ways, listed below:
1) An extensive literature search was made, including a survey of
Christmas Bird Counts published in Bird-Lore (1901-1940), Audubon
(1941-1944), Audubon Field Notes (1947-1970), and American Birds
(1971-1983). Since the counts are easily found in these journals, I
have not provided references for them in the Literature Cited section.
2) Major ornithological collections in the United States were
contacted to determine how many Scrub Jay specimens (study skins,
skeletons, and alcohol-preserved specimens) and egg sets were held in
each collection, as well as the date and location of collection of each
specimen or egg set. Information on 700 specimens and 252 egg sets was
obtained from the following collections (the person who provided me
with the information on each collection is listed in parentheses after
the name of the collection): Academy of Natural Sciences,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (J. W. Hardy); American Museum of Natural
History, New York City, New York (J. W. Hardy); Pierce Brodkorb
collection, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (J. A. C.);
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California
(J. Schonewald); Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania (J. Loughlin); The Charleston Museum, Charleston, South
Carolina (J. K. Pearlman); Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant,
Michigan (C. W. Biggs); Delaware Museum of Natural History, Greenville,
Delaware (D. M. Niles); Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago,
Illinois (J. W. Fitzpatrick); Florida State Museum, Gainesville,
Florida (J. A. C.); Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Los
Angeles, California (K. L. Garrett); Louisiana State University Museum
of Zoology, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (J. V. Remsen); Museum of
Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
(C. W. Biggs); Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California,
Berkeley, Calif'ornia (A. D. Jacobberger); Ohio State University Museum
of Zoology, Columbus, Ohio (M. B. Trautman); Peabody Museum of Natural
History, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (E. H. Stickney); Tall
Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, Florida (H. M. Stevenson);
United States National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
(M. R. Browning); University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
(W. K. Taylor); University of Kansas Museum of Natural History,
Lawrence, Kansas (J. A. C.); University of Miami Research Collection,
Coral Gables, Florida (C. W. Biggs); University of Michigan Museum of
Zoology, Ann Arbor, Michigan (D. Nelson); Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia (T. Webber);
Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, Los Angeles, California
(L. Kiff); Glen E. Woolfenden collection, University of South Florida,
Tampa, Florida (G. E. Woolfenden). The museum survey was not
exhaustive; after a certain point, further searching failed to reveal
3) I obtained the results of Florida Breeding Bird Surveys (BBS)
from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The BBS program in Florida
began in 1966. A BBS consists of a 24 and 1/2 mile route with 50 stops
placed at one-half mile intervals. Beginning 30 min before sunrise, an
observer drives the route, recording birds seen or heard in one 3-min
period at each stop. Observers and car odometers vary, so stops are
not always made at the same locations each year. Therefore, locations
where Scrub Jays have been reported on Breeding Bird Surveys are only
4) Chandler S. Robbins provided me with copies of the Bureau of
the Biological Survey (now U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service) files on
Florida Scrub Jays. The files are kept at Patuxent, Maryland. The
files were used by Howell (1932) in compiling the species accounts in
Florida Bird Life. Included in them are an extensive set of literature
citations, as well as numerous unpublished records of Scrub Jays from
the field notes of various Biological Survey biologists and references
from conversations and correspondence of the biologists with other
people. These reports are referred to in the text as the Biological
Survey files (abbreviated Biol Sury. files).
5) A survey was made of members of the Florida Ornithological
Society in fall, 1980, to obtain information regarding the present
distribution of Florida Scrub Jays. Some members, on their own time
and at their own expense, made extensive searches for Scrub Jays in
their areas. Other members provided locality information, or
information concerning the past distribution of Scrub Jays. All. of
this information was most helpful.
In 1981, I conducted an extensive field survey of Florida Scrub
Jay dis tribu tion. I tried to visit all locations at which Scrub Jays
were known or suspected to exist, and discovered several new
populations in the process. I also visited areas from which Scrub Jays
were known to have been extirpated already and scrub sites from which
Scrub Jays had never been reported. This survey forms the primary
basis for the county-by-county summaries that follow.
Because of the limited amount of time in which to cover most of
the Florida peninsula, most of the survey was conducted along public
roads and highways. The usual survey technique involved walking or
driving slowly, playing a tape recording of Scrub Jays "screech scolds"
(Barbour 1977). Tihe scold notes are given by Scrub Jays when they see
snakes, and other snakes typically respond by flying rapidly to the
site of the calls and mobbing excitedly. By playing the tape, I could
sometimes attract jays from a distance of 500 feet, greatly
facilitating the survey. Without the recordings, the survey would have
been inefficient and exceedingly time-consuming. I played the tape
whenever I encountered habitat potentially suitable for Scrub Jays. If
jays appeared quickly, I counted them and moved to another location.
If no jays appeared, but the habitat looked like good Scrub Jay
habitat, I played the tape for 10-15 minutes and tried to visit that
spot again before concluding that no jays were present in the area.
No doubt I missed Scrub Jays entirely in some places where they
are present. I suspect, however, that the number of such places is
low. Some Scrub Jays live in inaccessible locations, but few large
areas of scrub are entirely inaccessible. I am confident that I missed
few large populations, although I may have missed many small ones.
Therefore, I have used terms such as "probably," "maybe," and "likely"
throughout this paper. It is simply not possible to conduct in one
year an absolutely complete survey of a species present in as many
widely scattered locations as the Florida Scrub Jay.
I urge ornithologists and birdwatchers in Florida to search for
Scrub Jays in places where I failed to find any and where apparently
suitable habitat still exists. If Scrub Jays are found in locations
not mentioned in this report, please contact the author, or the Curator
of Ornithology, Florida State Museum, University of Florida,
Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA. Reports are also requested concerning
populations that have been extirpated.
The summaries that follow provide detailed analyses of the status
of Scrub Jays in each Florida county from which they have been
reported. Figure 1 shows locations of counties from which Scrub Jays
have been reported. Specific site locations are given in the Appendix.
Sites listed in the Appendix are referred to in the text by the county
name and a number. The cities and towns under which the sites are
listed in the Appendix can be found on the Florida highway map
published by the American Automobile Association. I have provided road
directions, as well as Township, Range, and Section numbers, for each
site, to ensure that they can be relocated in the future by other
I have also included a paragraph about specimens for which
locations are too vague to assign to any one county. There are also
reports of Scrub Jays from several localities that I find questionable,
and I have included a discussion of those records.
Although metric measurements have become the standard in
scientific publications, I have given road distances in miles, for two
reasons: 1) most car odometers read in miles; and 2) virtually all
maps show distances in miles. Furthermore, the Township, Range, and
Section system of land mapping uses the mile as its standard unit of
measurement. The use of miles in road directions will facilitate the
location of most sites. All other measurements are given in metric
Abbreviations used frequently in the county summaries and in the
Appendix are as follows: N, S, E, rJ, NE, SE, SW, NV--compass
Figure 1. Locations of Florida counties from which Florida Scrub
Jays have been reported. 1--Alachua Co.; 2--Brevard Co.; 3--Broward
Co.; 4--Charlotte Co.; 5--Citrus Co.; 6--Clay Co.; 7--Collier Co.;
8--Dade Co.; 9--DeSoto Co.; 10--Duval Co.; 11--Flagler Co.;
12--Gilchrist Co.; 13--Clades Co.; 14--Hardee Co.; 15--Hendry Co.;
16--Hernando Co.; 17--Highlands Co.; 18--Hillsborough Co.; 19--Indian
River Co.; 20--Lake Co.; 21--Lee Co.; 22--Levy Co.; 23--Manatee Co.;
24--Marion Co.; 25--M~artin Co.; 26--0keechobee Co.; 27--Orange Co.;
28--0sceola Co.; 29--Palm Beach Co.; 30--Pasco Co.; 31--Pinellas Co.;
32--Polk Co.; 33--Putnam Co.; 34--St. Johns Co.; 35--St. Lucie Co.;
36--Sarasota Co.; 37--Seminole Co.; 38--Sumter Co.; 39--Volusia Co.
directions; SR (number)--state highway (route) number; FR (number)--
Forest Service road number (Ocala National Forest); US (number)--
United States Highway number; SCL RR--Seaboard Coast Line Railway; FEC
RR--Florida East Coast Railway; ad--adult-plumaged Scrub Jay (blue
head); juv--juvenile Scrub Jay (brown head); in litt.--in a letter.
The "center" of a section refers to an area nearly equidistant from all
sides; the "middle" of a section refers to a transect across the
section in the specified direction.
For 17 Scrub Jay specimens collected from 1872 to 1962, the only
location given is "Florida." Specimens from the following locations
could be from any of the counties listed after them in parentheses:
Indian River, 16 specimens, 1875-1920 (Brevard, Volusia, Indian River,
St. Lucie, or Martin); Anclote River, 1 specimen, 1874 (Pasco or
Pinellas); upper St. Johns River, 2 specimens, 1887 (Volusia, Lake,
Seminole, Brevard, or Orange); Lake Harney, I specimen, 1887 (Volusia
or Seminole); Big Lake George, 4 specimens, 1885-86 (Marion, Putman,
Lake, or Volusia); Withlacoochee River, 1 specimen, 1929 (Citrus,
Hernando, Lake, Levy, Marion, Pasco, Polk, or Sumter); and near Shiloh,
5 specimens in 1947, and 2 egg sets in 1967 and 1968 (Brevard or
There are two egg sets that, according to the labels, were
collected in Leon County (no more specific location was given for
either set): Field Museum of Natural History, catalog number 1408, 4
eggs, collected by L. Whitfield, no date given; and Peabody Museum of
Natural History, no catalog number, 4 eggs, collected 21 May 1894 by
R. W. Williamns, Jr. J. W. Fitzpatrick (in litt.) has examined the egg
set at the Field Museum, and states that the eggs "are those of Florida
Scrub Jay," but H. M. Stevenson (in litt.) feels that the eggs may be
Blue Jay eggs. Mrs. E. H. Stickney (in litt.) has examined the eggs at
the Peabody Museum, and feels that they are those of a Blue Jay.
R. W. Williams, the collector of the Peabody set, later published
several papers on the birds of Leon Co. (Williams 1904, 1906, 1907,
1914, 1928, 1929). In none of those papers did he mention Scrub
Jays; he obviously rejected as false his own Leon Co. Scrub Jay record.
Bartsch (1917) reported the "Florida Jay" from Rockdale, Dade Co.,
on 24 June 1916. There were some patches of serub, or at least oak
thickets, as far south as Florida City (D. F. Austin, in litt.). No
one else has reported Scrub Jays from that far south, however, so
Bartsch's record deserves further scrutiny. Bartsch had made 3
previous trips to south Florida, and on each trip he kept a list of
birds observed (Bartsch 1914, 1915, 1916). In the reports on trips
after the first one, he made separate lists of species not observed on
previous trips. The "Florida Jay" was not listed among the new birds
seen in 1916, nor had it been reported from any of the previous trips.
Furthermore, Bartsch (1917) reported a "total list of 54 species"
(p. 182). On pp. 187-188, he listed the scientific names of all birds
seen; that list totals 54 species, but does not include Aphelocoma
caerulescens, or any of its synonyms. The "Florida Blue Jay" is not
among the birds Bartsch (1917) reported from Rockdale in 1916. It: is
possible that Bartsch did see a Scrub Jay at Rockdale, but it is just
as likely that the report of a "Florida Jay" from Rockdale in 1916 is
in error--the result of the accidental deletion of one word--and that
the bird actually seen was a Florida Blue Jay.
Crichlow (1928) reported Scrub Jays from several locations not
mentioned by anyone else: "Nassau County (near Fernandina on the
beach), .. Volusia County (Ortona .. ), .. Dade County
(. . Cocoanut [sic] Grove), Citrus County (. . Lecanto)" (p. 51).
Crichlow further stated that Scrub Jays were nowhere found more than 3
miles inland (even though LeCanto is ten miles inland). There is a
town of Ortona in Glades Co., and Scrub Jays live near there; I have
been unable to locate an Ortona in Volusia Co. Fernandina Beach is 15
miles farther north than the northernmost location reported by anybody
else (the mouth of the St. Johns River). If Rockdale is rejected as a
former location for Scrub Jays, Coconut Grove is about 7 miles farther
south than the next most southern location--~Little River. In the same
article, Crichlow wrote that he had found Gray Kingbirds nesting in
hollow trees and nest boxes--the only record of Gray Kingbirds nesting
in cavities, if true (cf. Sprunt 1942). Howell (1932) listed
Crichlow's paper in the Bibliography to his Florida Bird Life, but did
not list LeCanto, Ortona, Coconut Grove, or Fernandina Beach as Scrub
Jay locations in the text. Apparently, because of the many doubtful
statements in Crichlow's paper, Howell rejected some or all of
Crichlow's data. I have excluded all of Crichlow's locations.
There is one Scrub Jay specimen from Key West, Monroe Co., dated
27 December 1883. There are no other records of Scrub Jays from
anywhere in Monroe County. Key West is 150 miles from North Miami, the
closest likely source of wild birds, so it seems likely that the bird
was an escaped cage bird, as suggested by Pitelka (1951). Audubon
(1840-1844) reported Scrub Jays being kept as cage birds in New
Orleans, lending some credence to that: idea. H. M. Stevenson (in:
litt.) has examined the Key West specimen and says it lacks "the worn
remiges and rectrices characteristic of most caged birds." However,
the bird could have molted after its escape or release, or it may not
have spent much time in captivity. I think it unlikely that Scrub Jays
were ever resident at Key West.
Bendire (1895) wrote that Scrub Jays did not occur "north of Pine
Point .. on the Gulf Coast" (pp. 370-371). Howell (1932) listed
"Pine Point" as a locality for Scrub Jays, and his range map indicates
that he was referring to what is now called "Piney Point" in Taylor
County. I have examined the Scrub Jay records in the files used by
Howell in writing Florida Bird Life. The files include a card for
Bendire (1895), mentioning "Pine Point," but there is no other
reference in the file to Pine Point or Piney Point. I presume, tben,
that Bendire (1895) was Howell's only source for "Pine Point." Sprunt
(1946) also stated that Scrub Jays were present up to Pine Point, just
north of the mouth of the Suwannee River. I presume again that Sprunt
was only following Bendire (1895) and Howell (1932) in listing Pine
There is some scrub near Piney Point, Taylor Co., but I know of no
definite records of Scrub Jays from Piney Point or anywhere else in
Taylor County. There are, in fact, many "Pine Points" and "Piney
Points" scattered all along the west coast of Florida. It is debatable
to which Pine Point Bendire (1895) referred. I recommend, therefore,
that Taylor County be excluded from the known historical range of Scrub
Jays until definite evidence of their existence there comes to light.
Alachua County (Figure 2)
His torical. Baynard (1913) reported that Scrub Jays were very
rare within 20 miles of his Micanopy home and that he had only once
found them nesting in Alachua Co. Four Scrub Jays were collected 2
miles south of Cross Creek in 1963. The Cross Creek location is within
20 miles of Micanopy and may be the place where Baynard had found Scrub
Jays. Howell (1932) reported that Scrub Jays were found at Micanopy,
and Sprunt (1946) reported Scrub Jays north to Gainesville. I suspect
that both of those writers were referring to Baynard's (1913) paper,
and that the exact location in question is, in fact, the Cross Creek
Fossil remains of Scrub Jays have been found in late Pleistocene
deposits near Arredondo (Brodkorb 1959) and Haile (Ligon 1965). There
is at present no scrub within several miles of either of those
locations. The fossils indicate that Scrub Jays and, presumably, the
scrub itself, were more widespread in north-central Florida several
thousand years ago.
Present. I made several visits in 1980 and 1981 to the location 2
miles south of Cross Creek; on none of them did I find Scrub Jays. The
small area of scrub there is now quite overgrown and dense, apparently
due to the absence of fire, and appears unsuitable for Scrub Jays.
Figure 2. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Alachua (right) and
Gilchrist (left) Counties, Florida. Square--location of Scrub Jay
population, 1980-1983 (number refers to list of sites in Appendix);
triangles--former Scrub Jay populations; circles--other towns and cities.
There is one locality in Alachua Co. where I found Scrub Jays in
1981--on the Levy Co. line, west of Archer (Alachua Co. 1; this site is
adjacent to Levy Co. 1). This small tract of atypical turkey oak scrub
apparently supported a single family of jays in 1981 and was gradually
being cleared by its owner. It is likely that in a few years no Scrub
Jays will remain in Alachua Co.
Brevard County (Figure 3)
His torical. Scrub Jays have been reported in the ornithological
literature from the following locations in Brevard Co.: Cape Canaveral
(Hoxie 1889; Howell 1932); Dummitt's (south of Haulover Canal; Allen
1871); Eau Gallie (Howell 1932); Georgiana (Howell 1932); Indian River
City (Sprunt 1946); Melbourne (Brookfield 1949); Merritt Island (Spruat
1946); Micco (Baker 1889); Titusville (Jackson 1887; Bendire 1895); and
Wilson (Howell 1932). Maynard (1881) reported that Scrub Jays were
common east of the Indian River, south at least to Merritt Island.
Hoxie (1889) stated that Scrub Jays were fairly common within 2-3 miles
of Cape Canaveral. R. Schroder (in Sprunt 1946) stated that he had
found more Scrub Jays on. Merritt Island than anywhere else in th~e
state. Sprunt (1946) suggested that the best place to study them would
be in the narrow strip of scrub between the Indian River and the
Florida East Coast Railway tracks, especially south of Indian River
City. Brookfield (1949) wrote that Scrub Jays were "gratifyingly
numerous along the coast" in the Melbourne area.
Christmas Bird Counts conducted in the Titusville-Merritt Island
National Wildlife Refuge area since 1934 show a maximum of 25'3 Scrub
Cocoat Merritt I~land
i Cocoa Beach
27g 10 mi
Figure 3. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Brevard County, Florida.
Squares--locations of Scrub Jay populations, 1980-1983 (numbers
refer to list of sites in Appendix); triangles--former Scrub Jay
populations; circles--other towns and cities.
Jays in 1975. Most of those counts, however, have recorded fewer than
100 jays. Christmas counts made at Cocoa from 1951-1982 reached a high
of 106 Scrub Jays in 1957, but no more than 33 jays have been counted
since 1973. Christmas counts in South Brevard Co. (Micco area, but
including parts of Indian River Co.) from 1966-1982 showed highs of 41
Scrub Jays in 1970 and 1973. Some of the birds in each year were seen
in Indian River Co. Only 2 jays were seen on the 1982 count.
At least 159 specimens and 134 egg sets of Scrub Jays have been
collected in Brevard Co. Information on the skins and skeletons is
summarized in Table 1, and egg set data are summarized in Table 2.
Totals of 66 specimens and 46 egg sets were collected on the
mainland; the remainder were collected on M~erritt Island or the barrier
islands. It is apparent from the numbers collected that Scrub Jays In
the past were fairly common at Eau Gallie, Indialantic, Titusville, and
on Merritt Island. Egg sets show a nearly continuous distribution from
Titusville to about 5 miles north of Cocoa.
Scrub Jays were reported on the Scottsmoor Breeding Bird Survey in
1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, and 1977, when jays were seen on stops 41, 42,
45, 48, 49, and 50. All of those stops are in Merritt Island National
Wildlife Refuge, within 2 1/2 miles of the intersection of SR 402 and
Kennedy Parkway North.
There are several Brevard Co. records of Scrub Jays in the
Biological Survey files. D. J. Nicholson wrote in 1926 that Scrub Jays
were abundant from "Point Canaveral to Cocoa Beach .. about 75 seen
in 2 miles on the beach between Banana River and the ocean." Other
locations and dates of Scrub Jay records in th1e Biological Survey files
Table 1. Locations, dates, and numbers of Scrub Jay specimens (study
skins plus skeletons) collected in Brevard Co., Florida.
1860- 1900- 1940-
1899 1939 1979
no date Totals
Indian Harbor Beach
Indian River City
41 68 43
Table 2. Locations, dates, and numbers of Scrub Jay egg sets
collected in Brevard Co., Florida.
1870- 1910- 1950- no date Total
1909 1949 1979
Haulover Canal 1 2 3
Banana Creek 2 2
Banana River 3 1 4
5 mis N 1 2 3
4-4.5 mis S 2 2
6 mis S 1 1
between Cocoa and
Indian River City 1 1
Courtenay 2 2
3 mis N 2 2
4-4.5 mis N 3 3
Delespine 3 3
1 mi N 2 2
2 mis S 1 1 2
3 mis S 1 1
4 mis S 1 1 2
Eau Callie 1 1
2 mis S 1 1
Indialantic 13 13
Indian River City,
at and near 2 2 4
Indian River City,
1 mi N 1 1
Indian River City,
1 mi W 2 2
Indian River City,
2 mis W 1 1
Indian River City,
3 mis W 1 1
Indian River City,
2 mis S 2 2
Melbourne 1 1
opposite Titusville 1 1
Table 2, continued.
1870- 1910- 1950- no date Total
1909 1949 1979
between SR 520 & 528 2 2
S of SR 520 3 3
unspecified 4 22 26
Palm Bay (near) 1 1
Titusville 1 11 1 1
2 mis S 3 3
3-4 mis NE 6 6
12 mis E 5 5
at and near 6 3 9
2 mis E 1 1
6 mis S 1 1
8 mis S 1 1
unspecified 2 2
include Melbourne, 1889 (M. M. Green); Titusville, 1888 (W. Hoxie); 3
miles west of Titusville, 1889 (M. M. Green); and Melbourne Beach, 1917
Cruickshank (1980) stated that Scrub Jay numbers in Brevard
Co. have declined sharply since 1955 due to habitat destruction, but he
added that Scrub Jays remain common in undeveloped portions of the
county, especially on Cape Canaveral and Merritt Island.
On the data sheet for a set of Scrub Jay eggs he collected 21
March 1960 in Titusville, D. J. Nicholson wrote that the nest was found
in a 5-acre scrub "across the street from a row of occupied
houses .. (t]he last stronghold of this fine jay in Titusville,
when once, only a few short years ago, these jays were very abundant in
Titusville, but no longer!" He added a brief note that the clearing of
scrub for houses "shall mean the end to all our Florida jays."
R. Brown (fy Cleveland 1980) suggested that there may have been as
many as 20 pairs of Scrub Jays in Melbourne Beach prior to the clearing
of land for Spessard Holland Golf Course.
J. B. Johnson, who has lived in Brevard Co. since the 1950's,
indicates (in litt.) that Scrub Jays were fairly common around the
towns of Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, and MIerritt Island in the 1950's. He
thinks that the number of jays may have decreased by as much as 90% in
those areas, due to development. He has been unable to find any Scrub
Jays on Merritt Island west of Sykes Creek and Newfound Harbor, and
south of SR 528, for several years.
A tLract of scrub that supported a few Scrub Jays on Barnes Blvd,
west of US 1 in Rockledge was cleared in 1982 (H. Cruickshank, in
Present. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (MINWR; Brevard
Co. 19), which contains Kennedy Space Center, was censused by
L. R. Salata (MS), who estimated that there are between 2600 and 4800
jays on the refuge (Table 3). He censused birds by playback of Scrub
Jay alarm calls at several points along each of 17 transects in
different habitats with Scrub Jays. He sampled each transect 7 times,
and calculated densities using the maximum number of birds seen on each
transect on any of the sample dates. Using maxima might overestimate
the true density, since it might include some birds from outside the
census areas. That problem is at least partly countered, however, by
the fact that Salata played the tape for only 2 min at stops 150 m
apart. Some birds may have been missed between stops, and 2 min is not
always enough time for Scrub Jays to respond to a tape recording
(pers. obs.). His maximum population estimate was obtained under the
assumption that he counted all birds present within a transect 336 m
wide; the minimum estimate used a transect width of 524 m. Although
some jays will respond from the edges of transects of that width, I
think it is unlikely that all birds within even 168 m would have been
attracted to the source of the calls. Salata may have underestimated
the number of Scrub Jays at MINWR, possibly severely so.
Breininger (1981) also censused Scrub Jays at MINWR as part of a
study to determine the preferred habitats of Scrub Jays there. He used
three methods to estimate jay densities; I shall consider only two of
those methods here. (Results of the three methods were generally
similar.) The first method, the "Alarm Call method", was similar to
that used by Salata (MS): Jays were attracted to be counted by
C ar E a a, \o al c? 3
Oc v7 N m t
*HM ct mt N
at a) h **s a
*H \ L
rl 0 L/ O 0 3
Ou U T
*0fa a0 0oL a, r1u1
co t~ o co, to 0
LL 3 0 N Ln *\
r ~O <3 Or
O 01 LO a
0 00~ C 0
ilar ~ ~ ~ -3~ n ~ uL
H~ ~ cc ***- H- -4 Cs 0
***1 *Hr 0 d '-- E :~
.0 *M *M O LO 0 Wnj 1
a ce rr i c a toc e
7- C P )*
r0r *H 0 3 3
ri 3 01 0 h ..2
*~ Z 03 01 tEH L
cr0 o: N --
C0 to CO r--cc
*0 h)r* O C
3u I I I\ CO 3
ft d h r- O CO N *
30 *1 *~ O 0 .
O rl h O M <
[n C N hi EI O
e cr a, F c
V1 < 3- C1 -H I-
Cu ul hi 0f r CO
9(d U i C C CC
- a ,0~ CC CO
*i I 4J OR hi E 03 r
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playback of tape-recorded Scrub Jay alarm calls. Unlike Sala ta,
however, Breininger felt that he was able to count all jays within a
distance of only 40 m. That difference alone would create a fourfold
difference in density estimates. Breininger also used the Fourier
series method of Burnham et al. (1980) to estimate Scrub Jay densities
along most of the same transects and a few additional ones. This
method uses the distance from the transect center line at which each
bird was sighted to estimate population density in a more objective
manner than the Alarm Call method. Using the initials of the three
authors of the paper (Burnham, Anderson, and Laake), this method is
referred to as the BAL method.
In Table 3, I have presented the densities of Scrub Jays in three
different habitats at MINWR, as calculated by Salata (MCS), Breininger's
(1981) Alarm Call method, and Breininger's BAL method. Salata (MS)
also measured the areas covered by each of those habitats from a
vegetation map of MINWR (Stout MS). The habitat areas are given in
Table 3, and permit one to calculate the total number of Scrub Jays at
MINWR. I have also recalculated population densities from Salata's
data, using a transect width of 80 m instead of 336 or 524 m, and the
mean number of birds seen per census. There is a large discrepancy
between Salata's original population estimates and the estimates
derived from Breininger's (1981) density estimates, or the revised
Salata densities. There are few differences, however, between the two
sets of Breininger's figures.
Breininger (1981) had six transects on which he estimated Scrub
Jay densities >80 birds/40 ha. These are by far the highest densities
ever reported for Florida Scrub Jays. The highest density Salata (MS)
found was about 23.0 birds/40 ha. In several inland sites, the highest
density I found was 23.6 birds/40 ha. At Archbold Biological Station,
Highlands Co., Florida--the site of an intensive, long-term study of
Scrub Jay biology--the density is only about 10 birds/40 ha
(Woolfenden and Fitzpatrick MS). Breininger (pers. comm.) has
collected further data that corroborate his earlier finding of
densities over 80 birds/40 ha. He is not certain, however, about how
widespread the very high densities are. His transects were not
randomly located in all available habitat, although they did represent
a wide range of Scrub Jay habitats. It is likely that the very high
densities he found in some areas are restricted to a few local areas
(see Chapter 3). The actual average density of Scrub Jays at MINWR is
therefore probably somewhat less than the simple average of the
densities given by Breininger (1981), but it cannot be determined at
this time. As a partial solution to this dilemma, I have taken the
means of the highest and lowest densities reported for each habitat.
For oak scrub (= flatwoods of Salata and Breininger), the figure is
(7.7+48.0)/2 = 27.8 birds/40 ha, for a total of 5873 Scrub Jays. For
coastal scrub, the mean is (12.6+70.6)/2 = 41.6 birds/40 ha, or 2727
Scrub Jays. For coastal strand, the mean is (7.8+79.0)/2 = 43.4
birds/40 ha, or 411 Scrub Jays. The grand total is 9011 Scrub Jays.
Finally, it is necessary to take into account: the amount of habitat
that has been cleared for Kennedy Space Center. From aerial
photographs taken in 1979, it appears that about 10% of the scrub at
MINWR has been cleared. Deducting 10% from 9011, I arrive at a total
population size of about 8100 Scrub Jays. Because of the way it was
calculated, that figure must be considered a very rough estimate, and
it could be off by 25% (or more) in either direction, so I will use a
figure of 6000-10,000 jays at MINWR.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has begun a program of
controlled burning of all scrub at MINWR. Unless it occurs too often,
fire helps to maintain the suitability of scrub for Scrub Jays (see
Chap ter 3 ). If the entire refuge is not burned more frequently than
every 6-9 years, the total number of Scrub Jays should not change much
from its 1980 level, although expansion of Kennedy Space Center
facilities will cause the destruction of some Scrub Jay habitat.
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) is covered predominantly
by coastal scrub and coastal strand habitats similar to those at MINWRZ.
CCAFS is adjacent to MINWR, and I have assumed that Scrub Jay densities
are the same at CCAFS as in the similar habitats at MINWR. Density
estimates and habitat areas are shown in Table 4. Densities for the
two habitats under each estimation method are the same as those in
Table 3. Using a polar planimeter, I measured the habitat areas from a
vegetation map of MINWR and CCAFS (Stout MS). Total population
estimates range from 1654 to 9522 Scrub Jays, but the problems
discussed above, with regard to MINWR, apply here also. Using the
means of the high and low density estimates for each habitat, I derive
a total of 4914 Scrub Jays in coastal scrub, and 921 jays in coastal
strand, for a grand total of 5835 Scrub Jays at CCAFS. The scrub at
CCAFS has suffered relatively more clearing than that at MINWR. Aga in
using 1979 aerial photographs, it appears that about 20?% of CCAFS has
U *Hl Q
E-4 CD r
been cleared. Accordingly, the grand total at CCAFS is reduced to 4668
Scrub Jays. That figure, like the one of 8110 birds at MINUJR, might be
off by 25% in either direction, so I will use a figure of 3600-6000
birds. Habitat clearing for construction in the future will decrease
the number of birds somewhat.
Outside of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, the future of Scrub Jays in Brevard
Co. appears rather bleak. As shown by the locations of egg sets, Scrub
Jays must have been nearly continuously distributed along US 1 from
Titusville to about 5 miles north of Cocoa (Table 2). At the present
time, Scrub Jays are known from only two places along that stretch of
US 1: at the intersection of US 1 and SR 405, about 2 miles south of
Indian River City (Brevard Co. 33); and about 6 miles north of Cocoa
(Brevard Co. 3). The latter site is about 3 miles south of Delespine,
and is undergoing rapid and extensive development. There is very
little scrub left between Titusville and Cocoa. [Scrub Jays are also
present north of SR 405, about one mile west of US 1 (Brevard
Co. 32)--a population possibly continuous with Brevard Co. 33--and
about 3 miles west of Titusville (Brevard Co. 31), a site apparently
not visited by collectors, although M. M. Green reported Scrub Jays
from that general area in 1889 (Biol. Sury. files)].
Scrub Jays were found at a total of 20 mainland locations, but
only the Valkaria airport scrub (Brevard Co. 34) seems at all secure.
There are probably a few undetected Scrub Jay populations along the
Florida East Coast Railway tracks; the railroad populations and a few
other mainland populations (e.g., Brevard Co. 7 and 24) may persist
indefinitely, but none of those populations is very large.
On Merritt Island and the barrier islands, the prospects for Scrub
Jays are even worse than on the mainland. Except for areas in MINWR
and CCAFS, almost all of the scrub has been cleared or is being
cleared. Thirty-four Scrub Jays were seen on the islands south of SR
528, including 2 on Merritt Island, but only one of those birds was in
a site that appears at all safe--at the Girl Scout Center on Horti
Point (Brevard Co. 17). No more than 10 adult Scrub Jays were found at
Melbourne Beach, perhaps only a quarter of the former population. An
additional 4 birds were seen near Courtenay. Development is rampant on
the barrier island and around the town of Merritt Island. I expect
Scrub Jays to be almost completely gone from those areas in 5 to 10
Nevertheless, with the presence of Merritt Island National
Wildlife Refuge and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the continued
existence of 9600-16,000 Scrub Jays in Brevard Co. seems assured.
Broward County (Figure 4)
Historical. There are 2 Scrub Jay specimens from Broward Co.:
one from H~allandale in 1962, and one from Fort Lauderdale in 1970. One
egg set was collected at Hollywood in 1923. Howell (1932) listed Fort
Lauderdale as a locality for Scrub Jays. H. Byrd (Bio1. Surv. files)
reported that Scrub Jays were "tolerably common 15 miles south of Palm
Beach and south to Little River," a range that includes all of eastern
Four Scrub Jays were reported on the 1968 Fort Lauderdale summer
bird count (Stevenson 1969), and 3 on the 1969 summer bird count in
Figure 4. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Broward (bottom) and
Palm Beach (top) Counties, Florida. Squares--locations of Scrub
Jay populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer to list of sites in
Appendix); triangles--former Scrub Jay populations.
Fort Lauderdale (Stevenson 1970a). Scrub Jays were recorded in small
numbers (6 or fewer) on almost all Fort Lauderdale Christmas Bird
Counts from 1959-1973, but none have been recorded on Christmas counts
B. Humphreys (in litt.) reported that there was a small population
of Scrub Jays in northern Fort Lauderdale until the area was developed
in the mid-1960's. One or two families of jays lived behind a house at
1215 NE 11th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale until about 1975, when they
disappeared (Mrs. T. S. Christensen, in litt.). W. George
(pers. comm.) reported that the last Scrub Jays in Pompano Beach were
seen about 1974.
Present. It is not clear whether Scrub Jays were ever very common
in Broward Co., but they were certainly widespread along the eastern
edge of the county. There are at present no known populations of Scrub
Jays in Broward Co. The last birds evidently disappeared in the
mid-1970's. There is very little scrub left (Steinberg 1980), most of
it having been cleared for development.
Charlotte County (Figure 5)
Historical. C. E. Doe, in his field notes for 17 May 1929,
reported seeing many Scrub Jays at Grove City. Howell (1932) reported
Scrub Jays at Punta Gorda. Tame Scrub Jays were reported at New Point
Comfort (north of Grove City) by Withers (1939). Austin (1976) stated
that Scrub Jays could be found in what I call slash pine scrub between
Placida and Grove City. There is one specimen, without date, of a
juvenile Scrub Jay from Charlotte Harbor. C, J. Penuock reported that
Figure 5. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Charlotte (top) and
Lee (bottom) Counties, Florida. Squares--locations of Scrub Jay
populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer to list of sites in Appendix);
triangles--former Scrub Jay populations; circles--other towns and
Scrub Jays were rare breeders at Punta Gorda (Biol. Sury. files, no
date), and M. S. Crosby found 6 Scrub Jays at Punta Gorda in 1926
(Biol. Sury. files).
Present. So far, there have not been significant changes in the
distribution of Scrub Jays in Charlotte Co. Jays are still present at
or near all of the known historical localities.
Sixteen Scrub Jays were found in 5 different locations in two
general areas in 1981. Six jays were found on Shell Creek Loop Road
(C-764), northeast of Punta Gorda (Charlotte Co. 4); the rest were
found at various places along or near SR 775 between Placida and the
Sarasota Co. line (Charlotte Co. 2, 3, 6, and 7). In addition, I have
received reports of Scrub Jays at the Port Charlotte development
(Charlotte Co. 1), and S. A. Nesbitt (in litt.) has reported Scrub Jays
just south of Punta Gorda (Charlotte Co. 5). Much of the scrub at the
Port Charlotte development has already been cleared, and most of the
rest will probably be cleared in a few years. Some of the areas along
SR 775 (e.g., near Wildflower Golf Course) will probably also be
developed soon. There are few signs of active or impending development
along Shell Creek Loop Road; it is possible that In a few years this
will be the only viable population of Scrub Jays in the county.
Citrus County (Figure 6)
Historical. There is one specimen of a Scrub Jay collected at
Crystal River in 1969. One Scrub Jay was seen on the 1981 Floral City
Christmas Bird Count, the first count made at that location. Four jays
were seen on the 1982 count. Scrub Jays have also been reported on US
19-98 near the Cross-Florida Barge Canal (L. F. Snyder, in litt.).
Figure 6. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Citrus (upper left),
Hernando (lower left), and Sumter (right) Counties, Florida.
Squares--locations of Scrub Jay populations, 1980-1983 (numbers
refer to list of sites in Appendix); circles--other towns and cities.
Present. Nine populations of Scrub Jays are known in Citrus Co.
The largest population was found inland near the Crystal Manor
development (Citrus Co. 1 and 2) north of Crystal River. Single birds
or small groups were found at sites near Crystal River (Citrus Co. 3,
4, and 5), north of Hernando (6 and 7), and northeast of Inverness (8).
Scrub Jays are also present on the McGregor Smith Scout Reservation
southeast of Inverness (Citrus Co. 9; P. C. Anderson, Ranger, in
litt.), the only protected population of jays in the county. The
Crystal Manor site is being developed, but progress appears to be
rather slow. The other sites do not appear to be in imminent danger of
development, but single families can hardly be considered viable
populations. In addition to the jays on the scout reservation, it is
likely that there will always be a few scattered pairs of Scrub Jays in
Clay County (Figure 7)
Historical. One Scrub Jay was seen at Keystone Heights in 1965
(Stevenson 1965). Six Scrub Jays were recorded on the Keystone
Heights-Melrose Christmas Bird Count in 1966j, the only year that count
was made. The birds could have been at Gold Head Branch State Park, or
near Putnam Hall, Putnam Co. Two specimens were collected at Camp
Blanding Military Reservation in 1975.
Present. The Scrub Jays at Camp Blanding were located on the
southeast side of Kingsley Lake (J. Greene, pers. comm.). I did not
find any jays at that site in 1981. J. Greene (in litt.) said he had
not seen any jays there since about mid-1980, and that the site had not
Figure 7. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Clay (left) and St. Johns
(right) Counties, Florida. Squares--locations of Scrub Jay populations,
1980-1983 (numbers refer to list of sites in Appendix); triangles--
former Scrub Jay populations; circles--other towns and cities.
been burned since about 1960. Some of the site is quite dense and
overgrown with vegetation, while other areas have been heavily
disturbed and have little or no vegetation left. Three Scrub Jays were
seen along SR 21 on the southeast side of Camp Blanding (Clay Co. 1) in
an area with planted slash pines. This small population cannot be
expected to survive long.
The only significant Scrub Jay population known in Clay Co. is at
Gold Head Branch State Park (Clay Co. 2) and on adjacent private
property. That population is the northernmost one remaining in
Florida. One or two families of jays live in the park, and there may
be several more on the private property. The private property would
make an excellent addition to the park.
Collier County (Figure 8)
Historical. Christy (1928) found a pair of Scrub Jays at
Immokalee in 1927, and Sprunt (1946) also reported that Scrub Jays had
been found there. C. A. Mitchell recorded Scrub Jays at "Naples, Lee
Co." in March 1924 (Biol. Sury. files). Naples was in Lee County until
1923, when Collier Co. was formed from part of Lee Co. Mitchell may
have just had an old map. Howell (1932) and Sprunt (1946) both
mentioned Naples as a Scrub Jay locality, presumably referring to
Mitchell's record. Sprunt (1946) also reported a single record of a
Scrub Jay on Marco Island in 1936.
There are 3 Scrub Jay specimens collected in or near Immokalee in
1921, and 2 specimens taken at Lake Trafford in 1937.
Figure 8. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Collier County, Florida.
Square--location of Scrub Jay population, 1980-1983 (number refers
to list of sites in Appendix); triangles--former Scrub Jay populations.
One Scrub Jay was seen on the 1980 Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Christmas Bird Count, and 2 jays were seen on the 1981 count. None was
found on the 1982 count.
T. H. Below (in litt.) found a Scrub Jay nest, attended by 3
adults, near Immokalee in the early 1970's, in an area that has since
been developed. Below has never seen a Scrub Jay in Naples since
moving there in the early 1960's.
Present. A small population of Scrub Jays is present on the west
side of the Immokalee Airport (Collier Co. 1; E. Cutlip MS). As many
as 10 jays were seen there at one time in 1980 (E. Cutlip,
pers. comm.). This property is in owned by Collier Co., and the
population could survive indefinitely.
Dade County (Figure 9)
Historical. Oberholser (1920) reported Scrub Jays at Miami, but
Bailey (1932) reported jays only as far south as Lemon City. Sprunt
(1946) wrote that Scrub Jays could be found as far south as Miami, but
added that "many observers have not noted them" so far south (p. 78).
There are 7 Scrub Jay specimens collected between Ojus and North
Miami from 1896 to 1933. Another specimen was collected at North Miami
in 1962. One egg set was secured at Miami in 1910, 3 were collected at
Lemon City in 1922 and 1923, and 3 more were collected at Little River
in 1923 and 1924. One egg set was taken at an unspecified Dade
Co. location in 1923, and one specimen was collected at an unspecified
Dade Co. location in 1936. S. S. Cott, who collected a specimen at
Ojus in winter 1896-97, noted on the label that Scrub Jays were "rather
common among Scrub-pines."
Figure 9. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Dade County, Florida.
Triangles--former Scrub Jay populations; circles--other towns
J. and H. Quincy (in litt.) reported that 1-2 Scrub Jays were seen
daily from 1953-57 at the corner of NW 125th St and 7th Ave in North
Miami, but that they are all gone now. O. Owre (pers. comm.) stated
that Scrub Jays have been gone from Dade Co. for "years and years." See
comments concerning Rockdale under "Questionable Localities."
Present. Scrub Jays were probably fairly common and widespread in
northeastern Dade Co. at one time, but the last ones apparently
disappeared in the 1960's. The cause of the disappearance was habitat
destruction. There are now no Scrub Jays in Dade Co., and little if
DeSoto County (Figure 10)
Historical. A. H. Howell quoted a Mr. Wilkinson as saying that
Scrub Jays "occur near Fort Ogden" (Biol. Sury. files, 1918).
Present. Scrub Jays are known from two locations in DeSoto Co.:
along the Manatee Co. line, northwest of Arcadia (DeSoto Co. 1,
continuous with Manatee Co. 3); and on the Bright Hour Ranch, southeast
of Arcadia (DeSoto Co. 2). Both sites could support Scrub Jays
I know of no DeSoto Co. Scrub Jay populations near Fort Ogden, but
jays are present a few miles south of Fort Ogde~n in Charlotte
Co. (Charlotte Co. 4).
Historical. See Gilchrist Co.
1 g Limestone
Figure 10. Locations of Scrub Jay records in DeSoto (bottom) and
Hardke (top) Counties, Florida. Squares--locations of Scrub Jay
populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer to list of sites in Appendix);
circles--other towns and cities.
Duval County (Figure 11)
His torical. Ord (1818) wrote that Scrub Jays were seen daily in
February and March 1818 in thickets near the mouth of the St. Johns
River. Howell (1932) likewise reported Scrub Jays at the mouth of the
St. Johns River, and Oberholser (1920) stated that they were resident
in low scrub north to Jacksonville. E. R. Greene saw 4 Scrub Jays in
1924 between Pablo Beach (near the intersection of US 90 and SR A1A)
and Atlantic Beach, and 2 Scrub Jays in 1925 between Pablo Beach and
Neptune (Biol. Sury. files).
Grimes (1932) found Scrub Jays nesting at Jacksonville Beach and
Neptune in 1931. Later, Grimes (1940, 1943, and in Sprunt 1946) stated
that there had been 4-5 pairs in the Jackcsonvlle Beach area in 1930,
but that they had all disappeared by 1940. He attributed the
disappearance solely to the clearing of scrub for development.
One Scrub Jay egg set was collected at Jacksonville Beach in 1933.
One Scrub Jay was seen in coastal Jacksonville on the 1948
Christmas Bird Count. Scrub Jays were not seen again on a Jacksonville
Christmas Count until 1972, when one was seen on Talbot Island. A
Scrub Jay was present for 3-4 months in 1970 in scrub between the
Jacksonville Beach hospital and the Jacksonville Beach Golf Club
(S. A. Grimes, in litt.). A~ single jay seen on the University of North
Florida campus in 1978 was said to have been the first one in Duval
Co. in 6 years (Kale 1978b), but S. A. Grimes (in litt.) has informed
me that a family of Scrub Jays was present in scrub south of SR 202
(J. Turner Butler Blvd), about 1 and 1/2 miles west of SR A1A in
Jacksonville Beach in winter 1974-75.
Figure 11. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Duval County, Florida.
Triangles--former Scrub Jay populations; circle--other city.
Present. Scrub Jays were extirpated as breeding birds from Duval
Co. in the 1940's or 1950's. The jays occasionally reported from the
county are most likely non-breeding vagrants from farther south or
southwest t in Florida. As a result of urban development, there is very
little scrub left in Duval Co.
Flagler County (Figure 12)
Historical. In Flagler Co., Scrub Jays have been reported from
Bulow (2 specimens, 1925); in the vicinity of Flagler Beach (Lane
1981; and one specimen, 1929); 7 miles north of Flagler Beach (one
specimen, 1972); near Marineland (Hundley 1964; Stevenson
1970b; Steffee and Mason 1971c; Lane 1981; and one specimen, 1958); and
Matanzas Island (one specimen, 1950).
Concerning the two specimens collected at Bulow in 1925,
A. H. Howell noted that in the area where the birds were collected,
Scrub Jays "were numerous in oak and palmetto scrub on the beach"
(Biol. Sury. files). Stevenson (1970b) wrote that the northern limit
of the range of Scrub Jays in 1970 was at Marineland, although they had
previously been found north to Duval Co.
Five Scrub Jays were seen on the 1972 Christmas Bird Count at
Flagler Beach. No other Christmas counts have been conducted in
Present. Scrub Jays are still present just south of Marineland
(Flagler Co. 2) and at Flagler Beach State Recreation A~rea (Flagler
Co. 1). The population at Flagler Beach SRA has, however, declined
from 3-4 pairs in the mid-1970's to a single family in 1981, due to
Figure 12. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Flagler (right) and
Putnam (left) Counties, Florida. Squares--locations of Scrub Jay
populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer to list of sites in Appendix);
triangles--former Scrub Jay populations; circle--other town.
clearing of nearby scrub for development (C. Thorndike, Ranger,
pers. comm.). There are still extensive areas of scrub along the
Atlantic coast in Flagler Co., and some of these areas may still
support Scrub Jays. Most of that scrub is privately owned, however,
and therefore subject to development. (One large development is
currently being planned for the coastal area, about 4 miles south of
Scrub along SR A1A between Marineland and Washington Oaks Gardens
State Park (Flagler Co. 2) would make an excellent preserve.
Gilchrist County (Figure 2)
Historical. A. P. Smith reported Scrub Jays from Wannee on 10 Jan
1901 (Biol. Surv. files), and Howell (1932) listed Wannee as a location
for Scrub Jays.
Present. I could not find any scrub or Scrub Jays in Gilchrist
Co. There is, however, a tract of oak scrub in Dixie Co. about 3 miles
southwest of Wannee, across the Suwannee River. This tract could be
the location of the Wannee records, or it may merely be the last
remnant of scrub that was once more widespread around Wannee.
Glades County (Figure 13)
Historical. The only historical locality reported in the
literature for Scrub Jays in Glades Co. is along Fisheating Creek
(Evans 1923; Howell 1932; Sprunt 1946; Lane 1981). There is one Scrub
Jay specimen from Fisheating Creek in 1891, one from Palmdale in 1975,
and 2 specimens collected at unspecified Glades Co. localities in 1930.
Figure 13. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Glades (top) and
Hendry (bottom) Counties, Florida. Squares--locations of Scrub
Jay populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer to list of sites in
Appendix); triangle--former Scrub Jay population; circle--other
Present. Scrub Jays can be readily seen along SR 74, west of US
27, in the Fisheating Creek Wildlife Management Area (Glades Co. 4).
Scrub Jays are also present on several other areas of Fisheating Creek
WMA (Glades Co. 2, 3, and 9). The greatest numbers of jays are on the
north and south sides of Fisheating Creek itself, west of US 27. I
estimate the total Scrub Jay population at Fisheating Creek WMA to be
abou t 150 birds. That population should be preserved if at all
possible. Although the scrub in those areas is part of a wildlife
management area, it is nevertheless privately owned, and some of the
scrub has been cleared for cattle pasture in the past few years. (It
is conceivable that in the absence of fire, clearing of small patches
of scrub might actually prove beneficial to Scrub Jays by providing
openings in the habitat and preventing the vegetation from growing too
tall. Scrub Jays would benefit, however, only if each parcel of scrub
were allowed to regenerate for 8-10 years before being cleared again,
and if no non-scrub plants were planted. I cannot recommend mechanical
clearing of vegetation as a general management technique, but it might
prove useful in a few cases, and having Scrub Jays in a cow pasture is
preferable to having no jays at all.)
Scrub Jays are also present at low densities near Palmdale (Clades
Co. 1, 5 and 8), and at various places along SR 29 (6 and 7) and SR 78
(10-3).With the possible exception of the site east of Palmdale (5)
and the one at the Ortona Cemetery (13), these sites do not seem likely
to be developed, but the Scrub Jay populations are small and widely
dispersed, and cannot be considered stable.
Hardee County (FIgure 10)
Historical. One Scrub Jay was seen at stop 41 of the Fort
Lonesome (southeastern Hillsborough Co.) Breeding Bird Survey in 1972.
Stop 41 is on SR 64, probably just east of the Manatee Co. line, in
Hardee Co. (However, depending on exactly where the observer stopped
that year, stop 41 could have been a half-mile or more east or west of
its proper location, even in Manatee Co.)
Present. One small population of Scrub Jays was found west of
Limestone (Hardee Co. 1) in 1981. This population lives in a mosaic of
pastures and various types of scrub. There were no obvious indications
that any of that scrub will be cleared in the near future. There are
probably other small populations of Scrub Jays in southwestern Hardee
I have been unable to find any jays or scrub along SR 64 east of
the Manatee Co. line. There is some scrub along SR 64 in Manatee Co.,
just west of the Hardee Co. line, but I have found no jays there,
Hendry County (Figure 13)
H is torical. There are six Scrub Jay specimens from Fort Thompson
(near Laaelle), collected 1891-92, and one from LaBelle in 1937.
Howell (1932) also reported Scrub Jays from Fort Thompson.
E. S. Clark (in litt.) saw one Scrub Jay 20 December 1980 near the
junction of SR SO and SR 78A, about 5 miles southwest of LaBelle.
Present. I found no Scrub Jays in Hendry Co. in 1981, and only a
few small areas of slash pine scrub and poor quality oak scrub. I
conclude that there are no viable Scrub Jay populations in Hendry
Co. at the present time.
Hernando County (Figure 6)
Historical. Ten Scrub Jays were seen on the Hernando Co. Summer
Bird Count in 1969 (Stevenson 1970a). Westcott (1970) did not find any
jays at the Weeki Wachee scrub in 1969-70, but he felt that some of the
habitat would be suitable for Scrub Jays.
Present. The Weeki Wachee scrub (Hernando Co. 3) burned in June
1971, and at least one or two families of Scrub Jays are resident there
now. The jays may have dispersed to Weeki Wachee on their own, but
S. B. Pickett (pers. comrm.) has told me that the Scrub Jays were
released in that area in the 1970's by a local resident. The birds are
reproducing there, which indicates that it might be relatively easy to
establish new Scrub Jay populations elsewhere in the state, if that
story is true. The Weeki Wachee scrub is quite extensive, with few
signs of active development, but that situation could change quickly.
In addition, the sand pines are regenerating in many areas of the
scrub, and are now reaching heights of 6 meters or more. If the area
is not burned in the next few years, Scrub Jays might disappear due to
vegetational succession, even if the area is not developed.
Several Scrub Jays are present at Ridge Manor Estates (Hernando
Co. 1), north of the town of Ridge Manor. This development covers
several hundred acres and has an extensive network of roads, but I saw
very few new houses, or houses under construction. The jays,
therefore, seem relatively safe for the time being, but the development
could begin growing qulicklyr at any time.
A few Scrub Jays inhabit the western portions of Richloam Wildlife
Management Area (Hernando Co. 2), and this small population may persist
Highlands County (Figure 14)
Historical. Totals of 105 specimens and 26 egg sets of Scrub Jays
have been collected in Highlands Co. The specimens are from Lake
Istokpoga (2, 1893; 2, 1973); the Lake Placid-Childs-Hicoria area (5,
1928; 2, 1945-47; 7, 1950-59; 29, 1960-69; 46, 1970-79; 2, 1980); about
8 miles northwest of Lake Placid (1, 1980); Lorida (2, 1961); near
Sebring (1, 1972); 6 miles east of Sebring (2, 1923); Venus (1,
1960); and unspecified Highlands Co. locations (one each in 1959, 1961,
and 1973). Of the birds collected between Lake Placid and Hicoria,
approximately half were collected north of SR 70, and half south of SR
70. The egg sets include 5 from Sebring in 1923, and 21 from Lake
Placid and Childs, 1927-31.
The specimen localities include all sites mentioned in the
literature (Howell 1932; Pitelka 1951; Westcott 1970) except for a
population of Scrub Jays at Highlands Hlammock State Park (Hundley
1964; Steffee and Mason 1971a; Lane 1981).
G. E. Woolfenden, J. W. Fitzpatrick, and their colleagues have
been conducting intensive studies on a population of Scrub Jays at
Archbold Biological Station, about 8 miles south of Lake Placid, since
1969 (Stallcup and Woolfenden 1978; Woolfenden 1973, 1975, 1976, 1978b;
Woolfenden and Fitzpatrick 1977, 1978, MS).
Figure 14. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Highlands (left) and
Okeechobee (right) Counties, Florida. Squares--locations of Scrub
Jay populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer to list of sites in
Appendix); circles--other towns and cities.
Scrub Jays have been seen at one time or another on more than
two-thirds of the stops on the Lake Placid Breeding Bird Survey. Jays
have been most frequently seen along Old SR 8 (= SR 17) between SR 70
and SR 731.
Present. Totals of 302 adult and 75 juvenile Scrub Jays were seen
at over 50 locations in Highlands Co. Outside of Archbold Biological
Station in 1981. All but three of the populations were located within
6 miles of US 27, which runs roughly down the center of the Lake Wales
Ridge. Scrub Jays were found at all known historical locations, but it
is evident that much scrub has been cleared, especially along US 27.
For example, along US 27 between SR 70 and Venus (Highlands Co. 27),
about 65% of the natural vegetation has been cleared for citrus groves.
All of the remaining natural vegetation is scrub, indicating that scrub
was the major, if not the only, type of natural vegetation in that
area. North of SR 70 on US 27, scrub was probably intermixed with
other vegetation types, but was still a major component of the
vege ta tion. Very little natural vegetation of any type is left along
US 27 between SR 70 and the Polk Co. line, although Scrub Jays are
still present in some of the scrub that is left (Highlands Co. 22, 27).
I conclude, therefore, that Scrub Jays have declined significantly in
Highlands Co., due to habitat destruction, even though the trend cannot
be verified with historical records.
Scrub Jays will continue to decline in Highlands Co. as
development proceeds. At least 8 sites (Highlands Co. 1, 3, 4, 12, 20,
23, 24, and 38) show clear signs of development. Only the small
populations at Avon Park Bombing Range (5) and Highlands Hammock State
Park (8), and the large population at Archbold Biological Station (6),
are adequately protected. No doubt some of the other unprotected areas
will be developed in the future, but a large amount of scrub will still
be present in Righlands Co., just because there was so much of it to
begin with. The area likely to suffer the most damage from clearing,
other than the known housing developments, is along US 27 south of SR
70, as the scrub is cleared for citrus groves.
Using the Highlands Co. soil survey (Soil Conservation Service
1952), I estimated that prior to the development of Highlands Co.,
there may have been as much as 4000 hectares (10,000 acres) of scrub
south of SR 70, excluding Archbold Biological Station (ABS). That area
represents the extreme southern end of the Lake Wales Ridge. Some of
the scrub would have been sand pine scrub, but most would have been
suitable Scrub Jay habitat. Assuming that 65% of that scrub has been
cleared, as it has along US 27, about 1400 ha (3500 ac) of scrub
remain. Further assuming that the Scrub Jay density at ABS--about 10
birds/40 ha--is average for that whole area, I derive a population of
350 Scrub Jays for the area. The undisturbed portions should be
preserved if at al~l possible.
It is difficult to estimate the Scrub Jay population sizes in
other portions of Highlands Co. because the scrub is intermixed with
other habitats. Considerable scrub remains near Lake Placid, although
development is already taking place in most of the large tracts of
scrub. Nevertheless, in 1981, I found about 180 Scrub Jays within
about 6 miles (10 km) of Lake Placid, north of SR 70, and I estimate
that there are about 300 birds in that area.
In 1979, all "adult-plumaged" Scrub Jays at Archbold Biological
Station were counted during the breeding season (Woolfenden and
F itz patri ck MS ). A total of 388 jays in 144 groups was found. S ince
then, another small tract of scrub (and a lake) have been added to the
station property, so the continued existence of about 400 jays at ABS
seems likely. Most of the scrub on the station is burned periodically,
maintaining its suitability for Scrub Jays.
Woolfenden and Fitzpatrick have color-banded almost all of the
Scrub Jays on their study area at ABS, so that they can track the lives
of individual birds. I made a special effort to check for color-banded
Scrub Jays in H~ighlands Co., but found none outside of Woolfenden and
Fitzpatrick's study area, indicating a very low rate of dispersal.
Three sites in Highlands Co. should be considered as candidates
for preservation: a site on the west side of Lake Istokpoga, northeast
of Lake Placid (Highlands Co. 16); an area about 9 miles southeast of
Lorida on US 98 (30); and east and west of US 27, south of SR 70 (27).
Preservation of some scrub along US 27 is especially important, to
provide a buffer zone for the Archbold scrub.
Archbold Biological Station will always support a large population
of Scrub Jays, but jays will continue to decline in other parts of
Highland Co. as more scrub is cleared.
Hillsborough County (Figure 15)
Historical. There are few records of Scrub Jays in Hillsborough
Co. Reynolds (1910) wrote that he had seen "quite a number" of Scrub
Jays at an unspecified location in "Hillsbrook County" (p. 132), which
Figure 15. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Hillsborough (bottom)
and Pasco (top) Counties, Florida. Squares--locations of Scrub Jay
populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer to list of sites in Appendix);
triangles--former Scrub Jay populations; circles--other towns and
I assume refers to Hillsborough County. Baynard (1942) reported that
there were only four records of Scrub Jays in 20 years at Hillsborough
River S ta te Park. A member of the Florida Ornithological Society
reported that there were Scrub Jays near Ruskin in the early 1970's
(anon., pers. comm.).
Present. I found no Scrub Jays in Hillsborough Co. in 1981, and
have received only two recent reports of jays in the county: just
north of Picnic (Hillsborough Co. 1); and southeast of Ruskin (2).
There are several tracts of scrub, especially in the southern half of
the county, and some of them may support small numbers of Scrub Jays.
Indian River County (Figure 16)
Historical. Between 1896 and 1911, 13 Scrub Jay specimens were
collected at Sebastian. One egg set was taken near Roseland in 1925,
and 3 specimens were collected near the Roseland fire tower in 1973.
Two Scrub Jays were seen on the 1967 Vero Beach Summer Bird Count
(Stevenson 1968). Scrub Jays were seen on all Vero Beach Christmas
Bird Counts from 1965 to 1973, except one, with a maximum of 12 in
1972. No Christmas Bird Counts have been made in the Vero Beach area
since 1972. Scrub Jays were seen every year from 1966-82 on the South
Brevard Co. Christmas count, which includes the northeastern part of
Indian River Co. Some Scrub Jays were probably seen in Indian River
Co. on each count, but the exact numbers are unknown.
M?. C. Bowman (pers. comm.) has informed me that Scrub Jays were
once present on the barrier island, but have been gone for many years.
Figure 16. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Indian River (top),
Martin (bottom), and St. Lucie (center) Counties, Florida. Squares--
locations of Scrub Jay populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer to list
of sites in Appendix); triangles--former Scrub Jay populations;
circles--other towns and cities.
Present. I found eleven Scrub Jays at four places (Indian River
Co. 1-3, 5) in Indian River Co. in 1981, and I have received a report
of Scrub Jays at one other location (4). The populations are located
at Roseland and near Winter Beach.
There may be a few other undetected populations. Scrub Jays are
still present at or near the known historical locations, except for the
barrier island, but they have declined as a result of habitat
des truck tion. The scrub at Roseland (Indian River Co. 1) is unlikely to
be cleared in the near future, and probably supports more than the 3
jays I found there. The other 4 sites cannot be expected to remain
Lake County (excluding portions in Ocala National Forest) (Figure 17)
Historical. Keck (1903) reported that Scrub Jays were very rare
in the vicinity of Fruitland Park. Bosanquet (1927) wrote that Scrub
Jays were present in Lake Co., especially in "scrub lands." The field
notes of C. E. Doe indicate that he found Scrub Jays about 5 miles
south of Leesburg in 1932, and in the area between Eustis, Mount Dora,
and Tavares in 1938-1940. F. M. Walker reported "an abundance" of
Scrub Jays between Tavares and Leesburg (Biol. Sury. files, 1922).
There are three Scrub Jay specimens collected one mile south of
Sorrento in 1950, one from Eustis in 1934, one from 4.5 miles south of
Okahumpka in 1964, and two egg sets from between Tavares and Eustis,
dated 1939 and 1942.
Scrub Jays were seen on every Mount Dora Christmas Bird Count
(including those listed as Tangerine-Mount Dora) from 1955 to 1982. A
Figure 17. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Lake County, Florida.
Squares--locations of Scrub Jay populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer
to list of sites in Appendix); triangles--former Scrub Jay populations;
circles--other towns and cities.
high of 28 Scrub Jays was seen in 1965, but no more than 11 have been
seen on any count since 1976. The Mount Dora CBC circle includes part
of Orange Co., and some of the Scrub Jays in each year were probably
seen in Orange Co.
Brigham (1973) wrote that the Scrub Jay population in the Mount
Dora area had declined due to habitat destruction for housing
developments. She could find only one pair of jays in Mount Dora,
where there had been 6-8 pairs five years previously.
Scrub Jays have been recorded regularly at stops 26-29 on the
Mabel (Sumter Co.) Breeding Bird Survey. Those stops are on SR 48,
roughly 1.1-2.6 miles SW of Florida's Turnpike.
Present. Scrub Jays were found at 25 locations in Lake Co. in
1980 and 1981. The largest populations were found southeast of
Astatula (Lake Co. 2), along SR 44 between Cassia and Crow's Bluff (4-7
and 10-11), east of Eustis (13), and south of Howey-In-The-Hills (14).
In the areas southeast of Astatula and between Cassia and Crow's Bluff,
extensive areas of scrub are being cleared for houses. Recent clearing
was also evident at a site south of Clermont (9). Portions of the site
east of Eustis (13) have been cleared in the past, but the remainder
appears largely undisturbed and could support Scrub Jays indefinitely.
Scrub Jays are present at only two locations between Eustis, Tavares,
and Mount Dora (17, 18), and at one additional site between Tavares and
Leesburg (25). Extensive clearing has occurred around all of those
sites and they are not safe from further clearing.
I found no Scrub Jays one mile south of Sorrento, but jays are
still present a mile farther south, near Bay Ridge in Orange Co. N~o
jays were found 5 miles south of Leesburg, or 4.5 miles south of
Site 23 is close to stop 29 of the Mabel (Sumter Co.) Breeding
Bird Survey. A narrow strip of disturbed scrub is present between SR
48 and the Seaboard Coast Line Railway tracks from near Florida's
Turnpike, southwest to about 1.5 miles west of the Sumter Co. line (see
Sumter Co. 1). Scrub Jays may be distributed continuously along that
stretch of scrub; the habitat does not appear to be in danger of being
The fairly large population south of Howey-In-The-Hills (Lake
Co. 14) is in disturbed scrub, and its future cannot be predicted at
this time. The remaining Scrub Jay populations are scattered
throughout all but the southern quarter of Lake Co. Many of the
populations (e.g., at sites 3, 14, 15, 16, 18, 21, and 23) are in
disturbed scrub habitats. Because of the apparent ability of Scrub
Jays to survive in disturbed habitats, it is likely that there will
always be scattered pairs or small populations of Scrub Jays in Lake
Co. Scrub Jays will continue to decline as more habitat is cleared,
but it is unlikely that they will disappear completely from the county.
I expect the population to stabilize at around 100 jays in several
Lee County (Figure 5)
Historical. Scrub Jays have been reported in Lee Co. from Alvta
(Howell 1932; Steffee and Mason 1971b), F~ort MZyers (Oberholser
1920; Howell 1932), 01ga (Steffee and M~ason~r 1971b), Punt~a Rassa
(Bendire 1895; Howell 1932), and along SR 78 east of SR 31 (Hundley
1964). Scott (1889) reported that Scrub Jays were common along the
Gulf coast north of Punta Rassa, but not at Punta Rassa, so there is
some doubt as to whether Scrub Jays have ever been resident there.
On several occasions, Scrub Jays have been recorded on the
Breeding Bird Survey beginning near Salvista (north Fort Myers area):
one at stop 37 and one at stop 47, 1967; 2 at stop 21 and 3 at stop 46,
1968; 3 at stop 21, 1969; 2 at stop 35, 1971; one at stop 26, 1972; one
at stop 49, 1973; and three at stop 38, 1977. Stop 21 is on SR 78,
about 2 miles northeast of US 41 (Business Route); stop 26 is on SR 78,
about 3.5 miles northeast of UTS 41 (Business Route); stops 35 and 37
are on SR 78, about 1.5 and 0.5 miles, respectively, west and south of
SR 31; stop 38 is near the junction of SR 31 and SR 78; stops 46 and 47
are on SR 78, approximately 3.5 to 4.0 miles east of SR 31; and stop 49
is on SR 78, about 5 miles east of SR 31.
Three Scrub Jays were seen on the 1968 Fort Mlyers Summer Bird
Count (Stevenson 1969). Scrub Jays have never been recorded on a Fort
Myers Christmas Bird Count (1927, 1955, 1957-1980).
In addition to one specimen secured at Fort Miyers in 1892, there
are 23 Scrub Jay specimens from Alva, collected between 1891 and 1907,
perhaps indicating that Scrub Jays were fairly common there at that
There are several records of Scrub Jays in Liee Co. in the files of
the old Biological Survey: A person referred to only as "Beers" found
Scrub Jay eggs at Alva in 1907. A. H. HoIwill saw one Scrub Jay north
of Fort Myers near the Caloosahatchee River in 1919, and quoted
S. Ranson as saying that Scrub Jays "occur in moderate numbers" in that
area. M. S. Crosby noted 2 Scrub Jays at Fort M~yers in 1925, and 4 at
Alva in 1926.
Present. I found, or received reports of, Scrub Jays at 8
locations in Lee Co. All locations are within 2 miles of the
Caloosahatchee River east of Fort Myers. All of the sites are east of
SR 31, even though several of the older records are from west of SR 31.
A new street was put in one of the 01ga sites (Lee Co. 7) in 1979 or
1980, and two of the Alva sites (4 and 6) have evidently also undergone
some recent clearing. Scrub Jays could persist indefinitely at the
other sites, but due to the limited amount of scrub in Lee Co., it is
unlikely that there will ever be more than 30 or 40 Scrub Jays, if that
many, in the county.
Leyg County (Figure 18)
Historical. Ninety Scrub Jay specimens have been collected in
Levy Co. Of that number, 77 were collected in the Cedar Key--Lukens-
Sumner-Rosewood area from 1870-1908, one was collected at "Cedar Keys"
in 1926, 6 were collected near Rosewood or Sumner from 1952 to 1964, 3
were collected at Cedar Key in 1964-65, and one was collected at Cedar
Key in 1970. Single specimens were collected at Yankeetown in 1959 and
1964. One egg set was collected at "Cedar Keys" in 1894, and another
was collected "about three miles east [=north?] of Cedar Key" in 1935.
The Cedar Key, Lukens, Rosewood, and Sumner specimens are all referable
to a single, large population found within a fewI miles north of what is
now the junction of SR 24 and SR 347.
Figure 18. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Levy County, Florida.
Squares--locations of Scrub Jay populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer
to list of sites in Appendix); triangle--former Scrub Jay population;
circles--other towns and cities.
Howell (1932) reported that Scrub Jays had been found at Cedar Key
and Sumner. Maynard (1881) wrote that he had found Scrub Jays "in
quite large flocks on the mainland opposite Cedar Keys" (p. 165).
It is not clear whether Scrub Jays were ever present at Cedar Key
proper, or if Cedar Key was just used as a general term, referring to
the Rosewood-Sumner-Lukens area. For example, even though Maynard
(1881) wrote that Scrub Jays were common "on the mainland opposite
Cedar Keys," he gave the location of specimens he collected in the area
as "Cedar Keys."
Seventeen Scrub Jays were found on the 1979 Christmas Bird Count
at Cedar Key, 6 on the 1980 count, 13 on the 1981 count, and 26 in
Present. Scrub Jays were found in 3 areas of Levy Co. in 1981:
northeast of Bronson (Levy Co. 1); south of Chief land (7); and north of
Cedar Key (2-6). I did not find any jays at Yankeetown.
Very little scrub is left at Yankeetown, but some scrub is still
present near Rosewood and Sumner. The Rosewood-Sumner scrub appears
too tall and dense to be suitable for Scrub Jays, however, probably due
to the absence of fire for over 25 years (see below).
The Bronson site is on private property, and the jays may survive
there indefinitely. Some of the land at the Chief land site has been
cleared for houses recently, and the rest may follow in a few years.
Portions of the Cedar Key scrub are owned by the State of Florida
as the Cedar Key Scrub State Preserve (Levy Co. 5 and 6), and the
future of Scrub Jays on that land is assured as long as proper
management techniques are followed. An extensive wildfire burned most
of the Cedar Key scrub in the mid-1950's, and some of the areas have
not been burned since then. As a result, portions of the scrub are too
dense and overgrown to provide suitable Scrub Jay habitat. Burning of
the scrub on a 5-10 year cycle should improve the quality of the
habitat for the jays. I found 20-21 Scrub Jays on the state preserve
in 1980 and 1981, and estimate that there are no more than 30 or 40
jays on the preserve. This number could probably be increased through
Most of the private property around the state preserve is
relatively undisturbed, although some land has been cleared in the last
five years for projected housing developments. Some of the best Scrub
Jay habitat in the area is privately owned and posted "For Sale"--See
4, T15S, R13E (Levy Co. 4). I counted almost 20 Scrub Jays in that one
section in March 1981. Most of the birds were west of SR 347. A few
lots along SR 347 were cleared in 1982. Section 4 is bordered on three
sides by the state preserve; it should be protected from development if
at all possible.
I saw a total of 35 Scrub Jays on private lands in the Cedar Key
area in 1981, and estimate that about that many more went undetected.
If site 4 remains relatively undisturbed, a total population of about
100 Scrub Jays might be sustained in all of the Cedar Key scrub. If
site 4 and other areas are developed, the total might be as low as
Manatee County (Figure 19)
H is torical. There are 6 Scrub Jay specimens from Manatee Co.--
one from Mlanatee in 1876, 2 from "Sneeds [sic] Island" in 1889, and 3
from unspecified locations, 1884-1898. One batch of 8 eggs was
collected at Manatee (date unknown).
Byrd (1927) wrote that Scrub Jays had been "fairly abundant" in
Manatee Co. in 1925, but added that the clearing of much of the scrub
in 1924 for subdivisions had caused the population size to decrease.
Earlier, Byrd (Biol. Sury. files, 1918) had reported that Scrub Jays
occurred a little south of Bradenton.
Scrub Jays were seen on the Palma Sola Christmas Bird Count in
1908, 1910, 1912, 1925, and 1929. One Scrub Jay was seen on the
Northwest Manatee Co. Christmas Count in 1950. Scrub Jays were seen on
every Bradenton Christmas Bird Count: from 1959 to 1976, with a maximum
of 20 jays in 1964. No more than 6 jays were seen after the 1971
count. No counts were conducted from 1976 to 1981, and no jays were
found when the Bradenton count was reinstituted in 1982.
Scrub Jays have been seen three times on the Breeding Bird Survey
that begins at Fort Lonesome, Hillsborough Co. One jay was seen at
stop 41 in 1972, one was seen at stop 30 in 1977, and one was seen at
stop 29 in 1978. Stop 29 is on Duette Rd, 4.0-4.5 miles north of SR
64, stop 30 is 0.5 miles south of stop 29, and stop 41 is on SR 64,
near the Hardee Co. line (see comments under Hardee Co.).
Y. M. Stevenson (pers. comm.) found Scrub Jays in 1974 and 1977 on
private property in northeastern Manatee Co., west of SR 39 and south
of the Hillsborough Co. line.
Figure 19. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Manatee (top) and
Sarasota (bottom) Counties, Florida. Squares--locations of Scrub
Jay populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer to list of sites in
Appendix); triangles--former Scrub Jay populations; circles--other
towns and cities.
Present. Scrub Jays are known from 4 locations in Manatee Co. At
the site west of Myakka City (Manatee Co. 2), there is a substantial
amount of scrub, and probably more than just the 2 jays I found there.
The land is privately owned, and posted "For Sale." A small population
(Manatee Co. 4) of jays is present on Duette Rd, about 3.0-3.5 miles
north of SR 64, near stop 30 of the Fort Lonesome BBS. Another
population is southeast of Myakka City, straddling the Manatee-DeSoto
Co. line (Manatee Co. 3 and Desoto Co. 1).
I found no Scrub Jays in western Manatee Co., but have received
one report of a very small population in Bradenton (Manatee
Co. 1; D. D. Fulghum, in litt.). There are only a few remnants of
scrub left in Bradenton, and I found no scrub at all on Snead's Island.
Scrub Jays will probably disappear completely from western Manatee
Co. in the next few years because of habitat destruction.
I was unable to investigate the site in northeastern Manatee
Co. where H. M. Stevenson found Scrub Jays in the 1970's (see above),
but there are patches of scrub scattered throughout eastern Manatee
Co., and I would not be surprised if several of them supported small
populations of Scrub Jay.
Marion County (excluding portions in Ocala National Forest) (Figure 20)
Historical. There is little information concerning the historical
distribution of Scrub Jays in Marion Co. Two specimens were collected
one mile east of Silver Springs in 1952, and single specimens were
collected near Candler in 1964, and 8 miles west of Belleview in 1965.
One egg set was collected at an unspecified location in 1911.
Figure 20. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Mlarion County, Florida.
Squares--locations of Scrub Jay populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer
to list of sites in Appendix); circles--other towns and cities.
See Figure 21 for Ocala National Forest.
Westcott (1970) found Scrub Jays along C-484 where the highway
bisects the "Big Scrub,"*a 1-2 miles west of 1-75.
Fossil remains of at least two Scrub Jays, dating from the late
Pleistocene, have been found near Reddick (Hamon 1964).
Present. The "Big Scrub" is an extensive tract of scrub, 1-2
miles wide and about 12 miles long, extending from just south of the
I-75 rest area south of Ocala to 3-4 miles south of the Sumter
Co. line. Most of the Big Scrub is sand pine scrub, but there are some
areas of oak scrub without sand pines, and those areas support Scrub
Jays. The two areas where Scrub Jays were found In 1981 are in or near
the two housing developments in the Big Scrub--Ocala Waterway
development (Marion Co. 6) and Marion Oaks (Marion Co. 1),
The Ocala Waterway development has an extensive network of roads,
but there were no houses in the Scrub Jay habitat as of July 1983.
About 620 hectares (1550 acres) of scrub on the development and
adjacent, undisturbed scrub were burned on 16 May 1977 (Mason M. Rowe,
Forester, pers. comm.). This area is regenerating as dense 1-2 m oak
* There is confusion in the literature over exactly what is meant by
the "Big Scrub." The earliest use I have found of the term is in a
soil survey of the Ocala area in 1915 (Moo-ney et al. 1915). The map
illustrating the results of the survey was drawn in 1912, and shows a
narrow strip of land running in a north-south direction, south of
Ocala and west of Belleview, that is labelled "The Big Scrub." A few
years later, Byrd (1927) found Scrub Jays abundant in "the Big Scrub
in the eastern part of Marion Co." (p. 87), obviously referring to
Ocala National Forest. Kurz (1942) and Laessle (1958, 1968) wrote as
extensively on the scrub as anyone, and both of them called the scrub
ridge west of Belleview "The Big Scrub." Various publications of the
U. S. Forest Service (e.g., USDA Forest Service 1939; Cooper et
al. 1959; Snedaker and Lugo 1972) state that Ocala National Forest is
locally referred to as "The Big Scrub." I shall use the term only
when referring to the scrub ridge west of Belleview.
scrub, with scattered 2 m sand pines. The road network provides most
of the openings in the scrub and facilitated censusing of the area. I
counted 40 Scrub Jays in an area of about 200 acres in February 1981.
A more intensive census in 1982 yielded an estimate of 19.3 birds/40
ha. The census area appeared to have a higher density of jays than
some of the surrounding area, so a reasonable estimate of the total
Scrub Jay population in the entire burned area would be 250-300 birds.
Scrub Jays were also found at several places within the Marion
Oaks development (Marion Co. 1). Marion Oaks Is about 8 miles west of
Belleview, in the vicinity of where the 1965 specimen was collected.
Construction is proceeding rapidly at Mlarion Oaks. So far, all of the
development is south of C-484, but the developers plan to extend the
development to the north side of C-484. Scrub Jays may persist in
scattered remnants of scrub at Marion Oaks, but most will surely
disappear from that area in the next few years.
Undeveloped portions of the Big Scrub are worthy of preservation.
An especially good area for Scrub Jays is the burned area adjacent to
the Ocala Waterway development (See 26, T165, R21E).
One other development in Marion Co. poses a direct and immediate
threat to Scrub Jays--"Silver Springs Shores," just northwest of
Candler (M"arion Co. 3). Fifteen Scrub Jays were seen there in February
and Mrarch, 1981, but most of the habitat will probably be cleared for
houses within 10 or 20 years.
Scrub Jays were found at 3 other locations in Miarion Co.--
southwest of Belleview (Marion Co. 2), north of Eureka (4), and just
Jest of Ocala (5). They are all fairly small populations, and do not
seem to be in any immediate danger of destruction.
I found no Scrub Jays east of Silver Springs, but a few small
patches of scrub remain In that area. However, the two specimens
collected there were both juveniles, which could have just been
wandering through the area.
Martin County (Figure 16)
Historical. Scrub Jays have been reported from Jonathan Dickinson
State Park (Westcott 1970); 1-2 miles south of Port Salerno on SR A1A
(Hundley 1964); Rio (Toussaint 1913); and a mile north of Stuart
(Kuerzi 1939). Christy (1928) noted that Scrub Jays were frequently
seen along the highway from Stuart south to Palm Beach.
Scrub Jay specimens have been collected at Stuart (2, 1913), Port
Sewall (1, 1941), and Salerno (1, 1964).
Scrub Jays have been seen on every Christmas Bird Count conducted
at Stuart since 1959, with a maximum of 42 in 1962. Thirty-five jays
were seen on the 1974 count, 25 on the 1978 count, and 24 on the 1982
count, so the Christmas count data give little indication of a decline
of Scrub Jay numbers in Martin Co.
Present. The major concentration of Scrub Jays in Martin Co. is
at Jonathan Dickinson State Park (Martin Co. 1-6). I saw 98 Scrub Jays
in the park in 1981, and estimate that the total population is over 200
birds. A wildfire burned over 400 hectares (1000 acres) of scrub in
the park in 1971; that area is now excellent Scrub Jlay habitat, with
2-3 m scrub oaks and sand pines, and much bare sand. To maintain the
quality of the scrub here, portions of it should be burned on a
rotational basis, beginning immediately, with a 5-10 year burn cycle on
each tract. Without fire, the density of Scrub Jays will begin to
As development proceeds in Palm Beach Co., to the south of
Jonathan Dickinson State Park, it is probable that the park will become
the southernmost location for Scrub Jays on the Atlantic coast in a few
Scrub Jays are present at 5 sites between Stuart and Hobe Sound
(Mar tin Co. 7-11 ). The site near Gomez (10) does not appear likely to
be developed soon. The other sites are near Stuart (11) and Port
Salerno. Two of those sites (7, 11) consist only of remnant scrub, and
the other two (8 and 9) are in places where they could be developed
No Scrub Jays were found north of t-he St. Lucie River in M~artin
Co., even though some scrub remains. The disappearance of Scrub Jays
from the area north of Stuart (including Rio), may be due to habitat
destruction, or to natural succession of the scrub, rendering it
unsuitable for Scrub Jays.
Ocala National Forest (portions of Lake, Marion, and Putnam Counties)
Historical. Considering the abundance of Scrub Jays in the Ocala
National Forest, there is remarkably little information concerning
their historical occurrence there. Byrd (1927) wrote that Scrub Jays
were abundant in the "Big Scrub" in eastern Miarion Co., apparently
referring to Ocala National Forest (see comments on the various uses of
the term "Big Scrub" under M~arion Co.). Howell (1932) listed Fort
8 9 -17
518-19 I10 mi
33g a8 g35-36
45 16g1 1153-54
49 50-52 61g
Figure 21. Locations of Scrub Jay populations in Ocala National
Forest, 1980-1983 (numbers refer to list of sites in Appendix).
Gates as a locality for Scrub Jays. Brigham (1973) reported that Scrub
Jays could be found along SR 19 through the Forest. Westcott (1970)
found Scrub Jays at only a few sites in the Forest, and wrote that they
were common only at the southern edge of the Forest. He considered
most of the oak scrub without sand pines too dense to support many
A. H. Howell saw several Scrub Jays in the Oeala National Forest
in March, 1938 (Biol. Sury. files).
Scrub Jay specimens are from one mile east of Alexsander Springs
(1, 1947), 2 miles west of Astor Park (1, 1947), and Fullerville (2,
1957), all in the southeastern portion of the Forest; and Fort Gates,
on Lake George (2, 1876-1877).
Present. I found Scrub Jays at 61 sites in Ocala National Forest
in 1981 and 1982. Sites 1-36 (Appendix) are in the L~ake George Ranger
District, north of SR 40; sites 37-61 are in the. Seminole Ranger
District, south of SR 40. The Scrub Jay populations were scattered
throughout the scrub portions of the Forest, but were concentrated in
three general areas: along FR 97, FR 75, and FR 31, north of
C-316; along FR 79, between SR 40 and FR 73; and along FR 66, between
FR 73 and FR 87. I investigated sites only along improved roads in the
Forest; there are doubtless many more S~crub Jays in less accessible
portions of the Forest.
Of the 61 sites in which I found Scrub Jays, 57 were in stands of
sand pines that were clearcut between 19655 and 1980. None were in
stands of mature sand pine. Scrub oaks and palmettoes regenerate
quickly from underground roots following clearing or burning, and the
oaks may be up to 2 m tall after 5 years. Sand pines, on the other
hand, can regenerate only from seeds, so regeneration takes longer.
Sand pines less than 2-4 m tall, or with canopy cover <50%, do not seem
to affect the density of Scrub Jays on a given site. However, dense
stands of sand pine greater than 3-4 m tall do not provide sulitable
Scrub Jay habitat t. That stage in regeneration usually begins 10-15
years after clearing. Therefore, because of the relatively rapid
regeneration of scrub oaks, and the relatively slow regrowth of sand
pines, clear-cuts provide suitable Scrub Jay habitat from about 5 years
(minimum of 3 years) after cutting, until 10-15 years after cutting,
when the sand pines form a dense, closed canopy. Most scrub in Ocala
National Forest is thus suitable for Scru'o Jays for a maximum of 10-12
years. In 1981-802, over half of the stands regenerated from 1975 to
1978 were occupied by Scrub Jays (Table 5), evidence that stands 4;-7
years old provide the best Scrub Jay haibitat in the Forest.
Once the scrub becomes too old and dense, Scrub Jays must move on
to colonize another, more recently cleared site. Thus, th~e Fores t
presents an ever-changing mosaic of habitat suitable for jays. I
predict thats 10 years fromn now, few,, if any, Scrub Jays will still be
present at the sites where I found jays in 1981 and 1982, but that jays
w-ill be present in many other sites.
Habitat use by Scrub Jays in Ocal~a National Forest is discussed
further in Chapters 3 and 4i.
I estimated the total population (P) of Scrub Jays in Ocala
National Forest with the following equationl: P = Ap iN ,
whertf A,~ = the total areai of all stands in the ith age class, p.: =
Table 5. Figures used to estimate total number of Florida Scrub
Jays at Ocala National Forest, Florida.
A. Assuming each stand with Scrub Jays has a population
density of jays equal to that of the census area with
the lowest population density (14.3 jays/40 ha)
Proportion of stands
inhabited by Scrub Jays
Totatl population = 2613 Scrub Jays
Table 5, continued.
B. Assuming each stand with Scrub Jays has
density of jays equal to that of the census
area nearest it in age.
Proportion of stands
inhabited by Scrub Jays
Es tima ted
Total population = 3436 Scrub Jays
the proportion of the area in a given age class supporting Scrub Jays,
and N. = the population density of Scrub Jays in stands of that age
class. The total areas of all stands in each age class were obtained
from the offices of the Seminole and Lake George Ranger Districts,
Ocala National Forest. For each age class, the proportion of the area
inhabited by Scrub Jays was assumed to be equal to the proportion of
stands in that age class inhabited by Scrub Jays (which assumes, in
turn, that stands with and without Scrub Jays are of the same average
sizes). I used two different sets of figures for the population
densities of Scrub Jays in each age class: 1) to obtain minimum
estimates, I assumed that all stands with Scrub Jays had a density of
14.3 birds/40 ha, the lowest density I found on my four study areas in
the Forest (see Chapter 3); 2) to obtain higher estimates, I assumed
that each stand had a Scrub Jay density equal to that of the census
area nearest it in age. I thus obtained estimates ranging from
2613-3436 Scrub Jays in Ocala National Forest (Table 5). In the past
few years, the Forest Service has increased the acreage of sand pines
harvested each year, so the total population of Scrub Jays in Ocala
National Forest may increase somewhat in the next few years.
Prior to the establishment of Ocala National Forest, and even into
the 1920's and 1930's, wildfires created natural openings in the sand
pine scrub. Some of the fires burned several hundred or even thousand
acres at a time, and Scrub Jays would have occupied the regenerating,
burned-ovier areas. Fires are now suppressed in the Forest, but
clear-cuts provide the samre sort of environment for Scrub Jays. As
long as current management practices are continued, the future of jays
in the Forest seems secure.
Okeechobee County (Figure 14)
Historical. Sprunt (1946, 1954, 1958) and Mlayr and Greenway
(1962) wrote that Scrub Jays were absent from the Kissimmee Prairie,
which covers much of Okeechobee Co. One egg set was collected at
Basinger in 1928. W. Hoxie (Biol. Sury. files) reported that Scrub
Jays were very rare around Fort Drum, August-November 1888.
Present. I found Scrub Jays at one site near Basinger (0keechobee
Co. 1). There seemed to be little scrub in the area.
There is quite a bit of scrub around Fort Drum, but I have
received only one report of Scrub Jays there--one bird seen 20 March
1982 (M. Allen, in litt.). Whether the bird was a vagrant or a local
resident is moot.
Orange County (Figure 22)
Historical. Scrub Jays have been reported in the literature from
Orlando (Howell 1932); northwest of Orlando (Schroder, in Sprunt
1946); and Zellwood (Howell 1932). D. J. Nicholson (in Sprunt 1954)
reported a marked diminution in numbers of Scrub Jays in the Orlando
area due to environmental changes. Scrub Jays were reported on every
Orlando Christmas Bird Count from 1967 to 1981, with highs of 18 in
1970 and 9 in 1977. No Scrub Jays were seen on the 1982 Orlando
Scrub Jay specimens have been collected at Bay Ridge (1, 1957),
Orlando (1, 1953), 7 miles east of Orlando (1, 1945), 10-15 miles
southwest of Orlando (19, 1934-1946), and unspecified Orange
Co. locations (2, 1957). Egg sets were collected near Orlando (1,
Figure 22. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Orange (bottom) and
Seminole (top) Counties, Florida. Squares--locations of Scrub Jay
populations, 1980-1983 (numbers refer to list of sites in Appendix);
triangles--formner Scrub Jay populations; circles--other towns and
1950), 5-6 miles west of Orlando (5, 1915-1922), 8-9 miles west of
Orlando (4, 1922-1930), 8.5-9 miles northwest of Orlando (2, 1922 and
1930), 2-3.5 miles east of Orlando (4, 1923-1928), 10-12 miles east of
Orlando (4, 1957-1960), Maitland (1, 1957), near Lockhart (1, 1929),
1.5-3 miles northwest of Lockhart (10, 1922-1925), and 1/2 and 2 miles
north of Vineland (2, 1960 and 1963). An Orange Co. road map from the
1920's shows Lockhart about 1 1/2 miles east of what is now the
junction of I-4 and the I-4-Beeline Connector (SW 1/4 See 6, T24S,
R29E), not at its present location about 6 miles northwest of Orlando.
The locations northwest of Lockhart and north of Vineland are in the
same general area as the ones 10-15 miles southwest of Orlando, so
totals of 19 specimens and 13 egg sets are known from that area.
Concerning an area 10 miles east of Orlando on SR 50,
D. J. Nicholson (unpublished field notes, 5 April 1960) wrote that the
site was then being cleared for houses, and that the site represented
"the last known breeding grounds of these jays in all of Orange
County!" Nicholson was clearly wrong about the site being the last
place with Scrub Jays in Orange Co. (see below), but his comments
indicate the problems faced by Scrub Jays in the county, and in Florida
Present. No Scrub Jays remain east of Orlando. Although there is
still some scrub in that area, most of it is sand pine scrub, and
unsuitable for Scrub Jays. The locations which in the 1920's were 5-8
miles west of Orlando are near the town of Orlovista, now only one mile
west of Orlando; I found no scrub at all in that area, or at Maitland.
Only one family of Scrub Jays was found southwest of Orlando
(Orange Co. 4); that site is about 3 miles northwest of the former
location of Lockhart. The Orange Co. Soil Survey (Soil Conservation
Service 1960) shows that a tract of scrub about 12 miles long
(north-south) and 2-3 miles wide (east-west) was once present in that
area, centered on Big Sand Lake, Nearly all of the natural vegetation
in that tract has been cleared for houses or citrus groves.
The largest population of Scrub Jays in Orange Co. is in the Rock
Springs Run State Reserve (Orange Co. 2), just to the northeast of
Wekiwa Springs State Park. Twelve Scrub Jays were found there in March
1981, and 19 in July 1983. Scattered patches of oak scrub, and a large
tract of sand pine scrub, are located in the north-central part of the
reserve. I estimate the total population of Scrub Jays in the reserve
to be 40-50 birds.
A fairly large population of Scrub Jays is present about 5 miles
southeast of Orlando (Orange Co. 5), but some of the scrub is scheduled
to be cleared for a power plant, beginning in 1983.
Small numbers of Scrub Jays can be found at an additional 5 sites
(Orange Co. 1, 3, 6, 7, 8) in Orange Co. Only the jays at Wekiwa
Springs State Park (7) and on the Walt Disney World property (3) are
protected, and there may not be more than 2 or 3 families of jays at
each of those locations.
Howell's (1932) Zellwood location is probably referrable to the
Bay Ridge site (Orange Co. 1). Some of the scrub there has been
cleared for houses.
Osceola County (Figure 23)
Historical. Sprunt (1946, 1954, 1958) and Mayr and Greenway
(1962) reported that Scrub Jays were absent from the Kissimmee Prairie,
which covers much of Osceola Co. One Scrub Jay, however, was found
dead on US 441 about 2 miles south of Yeehaw Junction in 1974 (Taylor
1982), and three jays were seen in the same area in 1982 (Paul 1982).
Present. A small population of Scrub Jays inhabits scrub along US
441, about 2 miles south of Yeehaw Junction (Osceola Co. 2), Yeehaw
Junction is in the middle of the Kissimmee Prairie. Another small,
isolated population is present in the southwest corner of Osceola
Co. (Osceola Co. 1).
There are numerous patches of oak scrub in the vicinity of
Kissimmee and Saint Cloud, but apparently none of them support Scrub
Jays (pers. obs.; Westcott 1970).
Palm Beach County (Figure 4)
Historical. Although Bryant (1859) saw no Scrub Jays south of
Jupiter, and Bendire (1895) reported that Scrub Jays were not to be
seen south of Lake Worth, Christy (1928) reported that Scrub Jays were
frequent along the highway from Stuart, Mfartin Co., to about 25 miles
south of Palm Beach, which would be near the Broward Co. line. Also,
Eastman (1950) wrote that Scrub Jays were present in the scrub west of
Delray, and north and south for several miles. Howell (1932) listed
Lake Worth, Jupiter, and West Palm Beach as locations of Scrub Jay
popular tions. Three Scrub Jays were reported at De'lray in 1924 by Rolt
and Sutton (1926).
Figure 23. Locations of Scrub Jay records in Osceola County,
Florida. Squares--locations of Scrub Jay populations, 1980-1983
(numbers refer to list of sites in Appendix); circles--other towns
Scrub Jays have been seen on every Christmas Bird Count at West
Palm Beach since 1959. The maximum number recorded was 40 jays in
1972; no more than 15 have been seen on any count since then.
Palm Beach Co. Scrub Jay specimens are from Delray (1, 1924);
Jupiter (25, 1896-1921); Lake Worth (8, 1889-1920); Lantana (1,
1896); and Palm Beach and West Palm Beach (8, 1900-1948; and one,
undated); and unspecified locations (4, 1921-1923). There are 4 egg
sets from near Lantana in 1894, 2 from near Boynton in 1905, and one
collected "on road to Palm Beach" in 1922.
Single Scrub Jays were seen in Boca Raton on Breeding Bird Surveys
in 1968 and 1973.
Several pairs of Scrub Jays were seen at Juno and "in the pines
opposite Hypoluxo" in 1889 by M. M. Green (Biol. Sury. files).
J. J. Ryman (Biol. Sury. files, 1913) reported that Scrub Jays were
common 10 miles north of West Palm Beach (= near Juno Beach).
A. H. Howell (Bio1. Sury. files, 1918) found Scrub Jays to be numerous
"in the thick scrub just back of the beach" at Jupiter.
C. H. Plockelman (in litt.) has reported that Scrub Jays were
formerly present between Lake Worth and PGA Blvd in North Palm Beach,
but states that the area was extensively developed in the 1970's, and
jays are no longer present.
Present. Scrub Jays at one time were widespread in eastern Palm
Beach Co.; they were probably almost continuously distributed along the
Atlantic coastal ridge scrub.
Scrub Jays were found at 15 places in Palm Beach Co. in 1980-81.
The sites are clustered in the Boynton Beach-Delray Beach area (Palm