After shooting at Viera Wetlands last weekend, my friend Michael took me to a new place, a Florida Scrub Jay trail. I don’t have a whole lot of experience photographing Scrub Jays. They are a threatened species, and their habitat is in decline. I’ve photographed them at the Scrub Jay Trail at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and my dad and I tried for them once at Lyonia Preserve, but we got there too late in the day and the jays didn’t come out for us. So I was excited at the prospect of seeing some Scrub Jays. Besides, Michael told me that these birds are so tame that they often hop onto your head!
The sky was dark with rainclouds, and we weren’t at all optimistic that we’d see any birds. We figured they’d have more sense than we did, and stay under cover while it was raining! So I was pleasantly surprised when we saw our first jay after less than five minutes of walking. Florida Scrub Jays are extremely inquisitive birds. As soon as they noticed us, they wanted to come check us out. They came so close that I got full-frame shots with just a 70-200mm lens.
The next thing I knew, I had a jay on my head! Michael took pictures of me as I carefully lowered my camera and tried to look at his. It’s such a strange sensation to have a bird on your head. Then the jay decided that the little beanie thing on the top of my cap was food. So he stood there pecking at my hat! Silly bird!
The jays were really friendly. They went about their business in the scrub, pausing frequently to look at us, and jump on our heads more than once. I lay down in the sand and photographed the birds on the trail. It’d be fun to go back on a nicer day. I’d love to see the bright colors of their feathers when sunlight hits them!