Is the Florida Scrub-Jay Endangered?

You may already know that the Florida scrub-jay is found only in Florida. But are these bright blue corvids at risk of extinction?

Florida-Scrub Jay Population

Florida Scrub JayMattCuda/Getty Images
The Florida scrub-jay is threatened by habitat loss.

The Florida scrub-jay has the distinction of being the only bird species that resides solely in Florida. The birds are only found in scrub oak areas in the state. Housing development has been tough on this federally recognized threatened species, as its homelands of scrub oak slowly disappear or are carved into ever smaller pieces. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates their population numbers between 7,700 and 9,300 birds.

Meet 8 types of jays you should know.

What Do Florida-Scrub Jays Eat?

Acorns are Florida scrub-jays’ main food—a single bird may cache 6,000 or more each year. Feeders stocked with peanuts help sustain them.

Look for a California scrub-jay on the west coast.

Where to See a Florida Scrub-Jay

Florida scrub jayCourtesy Joe Dechico
Scrub-jay at Indrio Savannahs Preserve

Here are a few birding hotspots where you may spot Florida scrub-jays.

Helen and Allan Cruickshank Sanctuary

You’re almost guaranteed to encounter the endemic Florida scrub-jay during an easy walk at this sanctuary in Rockledge. Drive or hike along the embankments at Viera Wetlands to see unique birds such as the crested caracara.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Situated next to Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island is one of Florida’s best winter birding spots. Migratory waterfowl flock here in the thousands. Scan the roadsides toward Cape Canaveral National Seashore for your best chance to see scrub-jays.

Indrio Savannahs Preserve

A strip of scrub forest above the wetlands provides perfect habitat for the Florida scrub-jay, which flourishes at this preserve south of Vero Beach.

Meet the clever black and blue Steller’s jay.

Florida Scrub-Jay Pictures

Bnbbyc19 Betty WaldenCourtesy Betty Walden

“This is a Florida scrub-jay, a threatened species in Florida due to habitat loss. The scrub-jay landed on one of our cameras while we were in Palatka, Florida, in a scrub ecosystem, and gave us a look. This picture shows how much personality these birds have—they are curious, friendly and full of sass!” says Betty Walden of Merritt Island, Florida.

Bbxjuly16 AmyhornCourtesy Amy Horn

“We have always loved blue jays and enjoyed their company (we even named our first child Jay). But we never imagined that the scrubby area behind our home could hold a treasure like this Florida scrub-jay. It was friendly and so curious,” says Amy Horn of Fort White, Florida.

florida scrub jayCourtesy Sheri Cox

“Seeing scrub-jays for the first time at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge was amazing. I couldn’t believe how friendly they were. When I moved to Deltona, Florida, I was happy to find a nearby preserve also had scrub-jays. My fiancé was trying to capture a picture of me with one of the scrub-jays. While he was taking the photo, another landed on his phone,” says Sheri Cox of Deltona, Florida.

florida scrub jayCourtesy Edward Boos

“The Florida scrub-jay lives only in Florida. For the past five years, my wife and I have visited a site where a family of these naturally curious birds resides. During one visit, I walked away from my camera and three scrub-jays landed on it. Fortunately, I had a handheld camera with me and captured the moment,” says Edward Boos of Scaly Mountain, North Carolina.

Next, learn how to identify Canada jays.

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Lori Vanover
Lori Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She has a bachelor's degree in agricultural and environmental communications from the University of Illinois. Lori enjoys growing vegetables and flowers for pollinators in her gardens. She is also a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.