As humans, we try to find connections with people and creatures living in our environment. The way humans show affection is by touching, talking and spending time. By these actions alone, I would say that Yes, a FL Scrub Jay is capable of showing a person affection. However, it is very limited.
Some birds species rub against one another and coo to show one another affection. They will often pluck at each others feathers. This preening ritual results is a pleasurable experience for both birds involved. Therefore, when a human scratches them or rakes their feathers, they display the same sort of affection. Wild Scrub Jays do not offer this kind of relationship. If you try to touch or pet a wild Scrub Jay, it will move away. This is because it takes these gestures as you trying to move it or that they are in the way of something a larger animal is trying to accomplish. You can sneak it some touches if you know what you are doing though.
I have never experienced or seen a FL Scrub Jay have a touchy feely relationship with a human. I am sure there have been exceptions in the thousands of years that have existed between this bird and mankind. If a human were to rescue a baby and keep it around their home I am sure this may be a possibility. This is highly illegal and any found birds should be turned over to FL Wildlife Department.
The wild FL Scrub Jay shows affection like this:
- When it recognizes you, it will come right up to you.
- It will talk to you even when no other birds are around. Usually if they talk, it is to one another. And when I say talk, I mean the low volume voice they use with members of their own family.
- If they land on your arm or shoulder they hang around even when it is clear you have no treat for them. This means they are not afraid of you and may actually be curious as to what you are doing.
Many times they see humans as creatures that just so happen to be inhabiting the same space as them. They can be very robotic in that sense. They probably see us as visitors as well since most humans they encounter are on a walk through nature and are not actually living in the scrub with them.
They are able to recognize people and distinguish one person from another. I have gone out into the scrub with a new visitor and they can be very stand off-ish about this new stranger in their midst.
In conclusion, if you understand how Scrub Jays show affection then you can appreciate it when it occurs. If you are looking for pets or rubs or anything like you may see a tame cockatiel do with their owner then you will ultimately be disappointed. This is not happening with a FL Scrub Jay.