Monday, November 19, 2012

Florida Scrub-Jay monitoring in Ocala National Forest

This past summer, FWC research staff developed and tested a new monitoring protocol for Florida scrub-jays in Ocala National Forest.  The Florida scrub-jay, the only bird species endemic to Florida, has declined by more than 90% during the last century and occurs only in scrub and scrubby flatwoods communities.  Ocala National Forest is important because it supports the largest remaining population of the species.

The primary goal of this new project is to implement a monitoring program which is logistically feasible and statistically rigorous enough to track population trends of Florida scrub-jays in sand pine scrub stands over time.

As part of this project, FWC staff are color banding a portion of the population with unique color combinations to be able to distinguish among individual birds.  This will improve the accuracy of counts during the summer monitoring program and also allow researchers to track movements and survival of individual birds.

Florida scrub-jays on a foggy morning in a clearcut patch of scrub in Ocala National Forest.

Color bands on an adult Florida scrub-jay.

all text and images by Karl Miller

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