Most Florida Scrub-Jays never wonder too far from where they hatched. They are thought to travel no more than a mile from that spot during their entire lifetime. There are exceptions to this however. If a bird is displaced by some emergency it can find itself far outside of this one mile radius. In fact, the future of the species depends on some birds doing exactly that. The constant influx and outflux of a small number of birds from family units is what allows it to maintain genetic diversity. But, because of recent habitat disruption, this natural movement is near impossible for most scrub-jays.
In smaller cut-off areas, the scrub-jay units constantly find themselves bumping into other groups. The female will sound an alarm when she encounters a male that doesn’t belong to her group (a clucking noise she emits while tilted her head all the way back). The birds will then chase off any invader scrub-jays. Sometimes it can get violent but for the most part it does not.
On Central Florida’s east coast, public parks are where many scrub-jays live. Each family group controls an area no larger than four or five acres. These relatively small and isolated locations make for cramped living. The birds would occupy larger spaces if they were in fact available.
You will rarely find scrub-jays in the same exact location of their territory throughout the year. They often move their “home base” within their territory. But, their food stashes are found all over their space and especially on trails and areas cleared of vegetation. I want to get into the topic of scrub-jay food caching areas in my next post. It is quite fascinating.