Merritt Island, Florida
10.000 x 10.000 x 1.500 inches
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Painting - Acrylic On Canvas
The Florida Scrub Jay
I found this beauty near Cape Canaveral National Seashore. This was the sentinel of the group I watched. It tried to keep me away from the rest of the group. It posed for me on a little fence post. I painted this life size on a small gallery wrapped canvas.
Of the hundreds of native bird species living in Florida, only one, the Florida Scrub-Jay, is found nowhere else—they are true Floridians. The Florida Scrub-Jay is a habitat specialist found only in scrub habitat, the most endangered ecosystem type in Florida. As a result, Florida Scrub-Jay populations have declined dramatically, and this species is now federally listed as threatened.
The Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) is similar in size and shape to the more common Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata), but differs greatly in color pattern. Like other jays, the Florida Scrub-Jay is a medium-sized bird, approximately 10 inches long. However, unlike Blue Jays, the Florida Scrub-Jay does not have a crest on its head and is predominantly blue and gray with no bold black markings. The Florida Scrub-Jay has a sky-blue head, wings, and tail, and its body is pale gray. The front of its head and throat are white, and it has a blue-gray "bib." The coloration and markings of male and female Florida Scrub-Jays are the same. The more common Blue Jay has a prominent, bright blue crest on its head and a dark "necklace" around its throat that continues onto each side of its head. The Blue Jay's back, wings, and tail are bright blue with bold black bars and white tips on the flight feathers. Its face and underside are grayish-white.
Florida Scrub-Jays are endemic to Florida, meaning that they are only found in this state. They occur only in peninsular Florida, and their specific distribution is largely tied to the habitat type that they require. Historically, Florida Scrub-Jays were found in 39 counties in Florida, but currently only 32 counties still support Florida Scrub-Jay populations, and 9 of these counties have tiny populations of 10 or fewer pairs. During the last century, Florida Scrub-Jay numbers declined by 80–90%, and there are only an estimated 3,000–4,000 family groups remaining. As a result, the Florida Scrub-Jay is listed by the federal government as a threatened species.
The diet of Florida Scrub-Jays is quite varied. They spend much of their time hopping along the ground or through vegetation searching in the shrubs or leaf litter for insects and other invertebrates that make up the bulk of their diet. Small vertebrates and some seeds and berries also may be taken, but less often. During the winter, when insects are scarce, Florida Scrub-Jays rely on acorns as their dominant food source. They harvest acorns from the scrub oaks and bury them in open patches of sand during the fall. A single Florida Scrub-Jay can cache (hide) 6,000–8,000 acorns in a single year. The birds are able to remember where they hide most of their acorns and may return to eat them any time of year.
March 19th, 2014
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