Sunday, June 1, 2008

How to Identify a Scrub jay

The Scrub Jay is a close relative to the blue jay and looks similar, though their behavior and choice of habitat are somewhat different. What was once a single species has been divided into three subspecies. The Florida Scrub Jay, the Western Scrub Jay, and the Island Scrub Jay. The only reason for this is they live in very different parts of North America, though they look and act exactly the same.

How To Identify A Scrub Jay
Step 1:
First look at the bird's shape and size. An adult Scrub Jay should be about a foot long from beak to tail feathers. These tail feathers are loose and often appear as if they're about to fall out. They are typically larger in scale than the average songbird or blue jay, though they are identical in shape.

Step 2:
Look at the bird's coloring. They are blue on their back and wings in the same spots as a blue jay, though the shade of blue is often much lighter with a slight hint of grey. The best description is a powder blue. The forehead is a light grey strip and the throat is plain white. Their beaks and feet are black and the feathers along the legs leading up to the feet are grey.

Step 3:
Listen to the bird's call. If you're still unsure of whether you're looking at a blue jay or a scrub jay, their calls will always reveal the difference. A blue jay is a song bird that whistles and tweets pleasantly. A scrub jay's call is more akin to the dry harsh croak of a crow. Their calls are grating and discordant. If the bird matches these criteria then you're looking at a Scrub Jay, which is an endangered animal and is quickly losing their natural habitats to mankind. Consider yourself looking to have seen this beautiful and disappearing bird.

Tips & Warnings
As the name implies, the Scrub Jay lives in a scrub, which is an extremely dry habitat. Their ideal environment is an open woodland of oak or sand pine scrub with trees less than 10 feet tall providing minimal canopy cover. Unfortunately this land is also prime real estate for developers and the Scrub Jay usually loses out to mankind's bulldozers. Scrub Jays are extremely trusting of people and will often come to take food from your hand if offered.
The Scrub jay is an endangered species and should not be approached nor taken as a pet. If you spot a Scrub Jay living near your home inform your state's fish and wildlife department immediately as it is illegal to encroach upon a Scrub Jay's home and the land upon which they live will be protected by the state.

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