Friday, March 20, 2015

It Is New to Me

Those of us who are birdwatchers love being able to see a species that is new to us and to add it to our list.  It is a bit of an addiction and some bird watchers keep much better track of their numbers and may even use them to brag a bit.  Since some success is dependent on free time, money to travel and other things, I do not keep track of total numbers.  But I was able to see a bird that I had never seen before.  It took us an entire day of wandering on trails in the scrub brush of Florida.  I also saw a gopher tortoise which is somewhat rare and which I had never seen.  All I got was his butt heading back down the minute he saw me!

Please note that this tortoise was over a foot in width!  I do not know if it was male or female (male shells are more concave), perhaps some reptile reader can tell from this rear view, but I do know they can make underground tunnels 40 feet long!  This digging provides shelter for over 300 other animals types and thus this turtle is considered a "keystone species."  In Florida they are also categorized as a Threatened Species, certainly due to loss of habitat as Florida continues to pave paradise to make a parking lot.

BUT, I digress because I also saw on this trip my first scrub jay--Aphelocoma coerulescens.  As I wrote earlier this took a lot of walking around and listening for jay calls and just hanging out in the rather boring brush.  Glad it was a cool day.

The first one I saw was sitting high in a tree near the trail as the sun was going down.

The nice thing about jays is that they are somewhat curious, sometimes beggars, and therefore, not intimidated by man as you sneak in closer.  It is illegal but they can become hand fed.  I think this above was the male on the watch post.  He has different calls for snake(!), hawk(!), etc.

You will notice in the photo above that he/she has not one, not two, but three bands on the legs.  Their habitat of rare oak scrub is being taken each and every day.  This natural habitat must also face a regular burning for survival of their food.   Like the tortoise it is also a Threatened species.

Below the jay is eating some of those precious oak seeds.

Next time you are in Florida scrub oak, keep your eyes pealed.


  1. From the distance it is just another bird (not that there is anything wrong with that) up close I would have been excited and running to my "Birds of NO. America" at the first chance.

  2. Very pretty, very different from the common jays we have here.

  3. I'm quite surprised that it has three bands! I would think it rare for the same bird to be captured three times.
    I enjoy bird watching casually. i have life list only of the birds I have seen here in my own yard. It's about 35 or so.

  4. I love the jays. we don't get scrub jays here. he's a handsome bird.

  5. liked seeing this and I am continually watching to see somehing different here at the edge of the woods.
    Nothing lately.

  6. What a pretty bird! I've never seen (or heard of) a scrub jay.

  7. Strikingly beautiful. Thanks. I quite liked the tortoise, too. :-)

    Greetings from London.

  8. Not our Jays, ours doesn't stop when a human comes. Excellent images Tabor.


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