Wednesday, March 26, 2014

With The Time That Is Given

Mexican Jay-a common Jay found around Southern Arizona
Where do I begin?  My treks around the US have been life changing.  Sometimes exhausting but always worth the effort. In my 40 some years of life, I never thought I would be living this incredible dream of exploration.   The birds take me to some of the most amazing places around this planet. 

With my dear friend Sydney at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

I have a rule when seeking out birds.  My goal in this life is to find as many of our planet's birds while I still can.  It sounds quite simple but I assure you, it can be complicated.  Before any trip, I research EVERYTHING!  Places, birds, name it. 

Orange-breasted Falcon

 Several birds that become my priority are the endemics and endangered species. One of the birds of Florida that is an endemic is the Florida Scrub-Jay.  I thought it to be numerous having heard several birders tell me it was a "trash" bird(a bird found EVERYWHERE).  Turns out the Florida Scrub-Jay is not only endemic but endangered!  Within our lifetimes, this bird could go extinct.  When I read reports like this, I am saddened.  It is very difficult for me to accept that we, as humans, are accelerating their extinction.  My friend Gordon said to me that this Jay should be my priority as its numbers continue to diminish.  When he told me this, I sat up the entire night reading.  It broke my heart.  How many birds will I see in my lifetime go extinct?  Today I have seen several birds, like the Orange-breasted Falcon and California Condor, that are critically endangered.  When one of these birds is observed in the wild, a tear forms in my eye.  

California Condor
  As I got more into birding, a wise old birder gave me some good advice that I cannot shake.  She puffed on her cigarette and in her no-nonsense-way told me to go after the birds that face extinction first.  It hit me hard.  Birding is a thrill for me.  While finding an endangered bird is exciting, it also is profoundly moving. After an outing with a find like that, I sit at a private table with a drink and just watch the world pass me by.  And I think about humanity as a whole. I wish I could change the world.  

Florida Scrub-Jay
So when I went to Florida, I knew that this bird was important for many reasons.  People continue to move to Florida.  The human population continues to increase.  Construction continues.  Roads are widened and created to get to those new subdivisions.  And more and more, the Florida Scrub-Jay is now locked into protected areas which is concerning because it limits the genetic diversity within their populations. Another major factor to the demise of this bird is caused by automobiles on the road. Because there are so many road mortalities, in populations of Florida Scrub-Jays near roads, the number of breeding adults that die each year is much greater than the number of offspring they produce each year. This creates what is known as a population "sink," where the population can't sustain itself without a constant influx of newcomers.

So on this day after weeks of study, I was granted one of the most wonderful gifts possible......a close encounter with the Florida Scrub-Jay.  And it was a very special moment that I won't forget anytime soon.  I hope that the state of Florida can reverse the declining population trend of these magnificent birds. 

I am linking to Wild Bird Wednesday. Here is my buddy Kathie's story about her own experience with the Florida Scrub-Jay.  Las Aventuras continues.....


  1. Of course you can change the world Chris, at least you can make a difference,
    Making others aware of these endangered species is already a move forward.
    Don't feel overwhelmed. You will find ways down the road to do more I am sure.
    The scrub-jay and yourself are making such a good pair...

  2. Such a beautiful bird and amazing to have it come that close. That's one encounter to relive in memory many times. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Chris, I love all the photos but my favorite is you with the jay on your head!!

  4. Chris, your Scrub Jay shots are awesome. Great photos.

  5. What beautiful blue bird .. Funny.. :-)))

  6. I'm so glad you were able to see the Scrub Jay and get these amazing photos. How small we feel in light of development, but if we can help one bird, we've made a change.

  7. A wonderful post and photos Chris - I love the one with the Scrub Jay perched on your head - what a superb close encounter :) Its so sad to read of so many species everywhere being endangered and with the possibility of extinction. Well done on raising the profile of some of these birds.

  8. Do I detect the words of a Grey Wizard in the title?

    Great post.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  9. What a great post, I love the photos of your close encounter and great gift the Florida Scrub Jay!

  10. Great shots of the jay. That's just awesome.

  11. Chris, I had no idea that you posted this as I wrote my post today. Seems we are both still in sync with one another! Yes, this is a tragic story but hopefully with a joyful end. I am so glad you posted this and also glad that you impressed on me the need to find and see this bird. However, if there were any justice in this world, I wish that jay had pooped on your head! I cannot believe you found it so easily! (you know I'm just kidding, right?) I am so happy for you! And I can't wait until you come and visit me in Maine!

  12. Congratulations on this special find, and for sharing it with us. I saw Western Scrub Jays recently in California so find it easier to imagine the Florida one now.

  13. Such a sad but familiar tale Chris. I'm sure that if many people had such close encounters with similarly endangered species they too would become empowered you are. Simply caring and spreading the word can achieve much.

  14. P.S. All kidding aside, I guess I just needed my Bird Whisperer with me!

  15. That is one very pretty bird. I love how Jays and Crows will cozy right up to you. I remember a grey Jay-like bird in Colorado that landed on my shoulder. Looking for peanuts I'm sure.

  16. Hi there, We are back from ANOTHER trip. This time we were in Georgia checking out yet another waterfall... Check my blog today when you get a chance.

    Had no idea that the Florida Scrub Jay is on the endangered list... That little bird knew a friend when he saw YOU... Love the photos of you with your little friend.

    Have a great weekend.

  17. Chris, it makes my heart break too when I think of birds, or any animal becoming extinct..remember learning about the Dodo in school? I saw a stuffed one in a museum in NZ and it made all those dry facts so real. Imagine what it would have been like to see one in real life?


  18. hi Chris. what a wonderful post with interesting birds and photos Lovely to see you got close and personal with the Jay. Will humans ever learn! have a great weekend.

  19. This post makes me sad. I loved the shots of the scrub-jay on your head and in the palm of your hand. The thought of species going extinct because of our encroachment is disturbing beyond words. My grandson has inherited a real love for wildlife, and I think he might one day be involved in some kind of animal conservation. I hope so.


Thanks for stopping by!