Bird Quiz: Florida Scrub Jay

Bird Quiz: Florida Scrub Jay

Michele Berger
Published: 11/03/2011

Photo by Dawn Huczek, Flickr Creative Commons

By now, you’ve spotted the Florida Scrub Jay virtually on Birding the Net (What? You haven’t? There’s still time to play before the game’s Nov. 7 endpoint—you could still win great prizes!) but what’s the likelihood you’ll see this species in real life? See question 2. Or what about what these guys eat?

Take our quiz below to determine how much you know about the Florida scrub jay (one of BTN’s spokesbirds, by the way). Scroll past the picture below for the answers.

1. True or False: The Florida scrub jay is in the same family as crows and ravens?

2. What’s the global population of these birds?
a. 6,500
b. 65,000
c. 650,000
d. More than a million

3. True or False: One individual scrub jays sits watch for predators. The call he makes to warn his family of danger changes when different predators come by.

4. What does the scrub jay’s call sound like?
a. Melodious and beautiful
b. Harsh and scratchy
c. A whisper
d. Short, quick pip-pips

5. True or False: No matter what—even if there’s food to be had—the Florida scrub jay will never land on a human’s head.


Photo by Bob Peterson, Flickr Creative Commons

Answers
1. True or False: The Florida scrub jay is in the same family as crows and ravens?
True. These blue, white, and black birds fall in the Corvidae family, along with crow, raven, and yes, it’s look-alike cousin, the blue jay. (For more, see the Audubon species profile.)

2. What’s the global population of these birds?
A, 6,500.
These birds, the only avian species found only in Florida, depend on a very specific habitat type. But surprise, we’re getting in their way, developing the land, planting citrus groves and creating pastures where scrub oak once survived. Audubon of Florida is working to acquire some of the privately owned land so important to these birds.

3. True or False: One individual scrub jays sits watch for predators. The call he makes to warn his family of danger changes when different predators come by.
True. Individual birds take turns on this look out, according to Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “If a dangerous hawk is seen, the sentinel gives an alarm call and everyone dives for cover. A different call alerts the family to snakes and other dangers on the ground, and the entire family will join in mobbing a terrestrial predator.” What a protective bunch!

4. What does the scrub jay’s call sound like?
B, harsh and scratchy.
This species will never be confused for a melodious tunester. Give a listen here, on a recording from the Macaulay Sound Library. Females tend to emit what’s described as a “dry rattle,” often mimicked by juveniles when they’re learning to make sounds.

5. True or False: No matter what—even if there’s food to be had—the Florida scrub jay will never land on a human.
False, these birds actually would perch on your head if there’s a chance for food, according to Audubon.org. These hungry birds also eat a ton of different snacks, from acorns and anoles to bees and berries, even small snakes and tree frogs. “When not persecuted, and especially when provided with food, the Florida scrub jay becomes very tame,” notes Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s species profile. “It will readily perch on a person's hand, arm, or head to get food.”

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