Florida has its own species of scrub-jay. It’s endemic to Florida, federally threatened, and appropriately named the Florida Scrub-Jay, Aphelocoma coerulescens. Florida also has its own subspecies of Burrowing Owl, Athene cunicularia floridana. Both species have some overlapping habitat preferences: open sandy areas with low-growing scrub-shrubs. Fortunately for me, this habitat is in the Fort Myers area in nearby Cape Coral. Before I drove out to the site, I reviewed this beautiful map of the Cape Coral area.
Welcome to Cape Coral, Florida, where you get your own canal. You also get your own alligator, but they don’t advertise that part. This area went through a complete landscape transformation in the 1960s. Not surprisingly, the area was “swampy” and uninhabitable by human standards. Mangrove swamps and palmetto scrublands dominated the area. Out-of-state dreamers were convinced they could turn this place into a real estate paradise. The main developer at the time “… passed off inaccessible mush as prime real estate, sold the same swampy lots to multiple buyers, and used listening devices to spy on its customers” (Grunwald 2017).
Back to the Burrowing Owls and Florida Scrub-Jays, because that’s why we’re here and because they live here, in this motherboard.
On March 10, 2019, both species were within walking distance from each other in the red circle on the image below. You can even go onto eBird and search for the scrub-jay, and you’ll see a whole cluster of points at this very spot. When I was there, so were other birders.
And that, my readers who made it this far, is all I have to say right now. I thought I could fit my last few Florida posts into one post. Nope. There’s more to come. Maybe I need to move there and do a Florida big year? I’m realizing now that this blog needs a new name, too.
Next up: SPOONBILLS!
Grunwald, M. 2017. The Boomtown That Shouldn’t Exist. Politico Magazine. November/December 2017