Updated: Jul 10, 2021
During a trip to visit Cornell University in 2019 I was introduced to the Lab of Ornithology. I realized immediately that the resources offered through this amazing research space would provide the tools to allow me to continue to study ornithology independently. When I returned to Florida, I began to watch the many bird cams operated by the Lab of O and I also utilized the platform for recording my own bird watching results, joining citizen science projects, and exploring the course offerings.
I decided to enroll in a “Comprehensive Bird Biology” course to gain access to further information about all bird species and explore what it means to participate in ornithology research. During the introduction to the course authors, one of the instructors mentioned his PhD work with the “Florida Scrub Jay.” That immediately caught my attention because it sounded like a bird I should be seeing during my bird-watching activities. However, I did not recall ever recording this species. So I paused the course and looked up this interesting bird. I was immediately hooked! There is only one bird endemic to Florida..and this is it!
As soon as I learned about the existence of the Florida Scrub Jay, I casually wondered if it was our state bird. I did some quick research and that's when I discovered that the current Florida state bird is the Northern Mockingjay. I see Mockingjays every day in my bird watching. They are such amazing mimics and a truly interesting bird. But they aren’t unique to Florida. In fact, they are so common they are listed as the state bird of many other states as well. I felt an instant connection to the Florida Scrub jay and its habits of cooperative breeding, staying close to home, and working together on predator watch. I believe we should pass legislation to change the Florida state bird to the Florida Scrub Jay as it represents our state well and can unite us all around a bird that truly belongs to Florida!
Image: WS Barbour, Jan 17, 2016