Landscape and Nature Photographer
I've been photographing scrub-jays now for a few months. I've read many things about the birds and talked with a few people that either manage the areas populated by the birds or research the birds. I've read and heard the birds referred to as boisterous. I would whole heartedly agree, they definitely make themselves known. I've also read and heard people refer to the birds as curious. Again I agree, they are very inquisitive creatures from my experience so far. I've read and heard friendly... This is where opinions differ. I agree that in environments where the birds are very consistently exposed to people and the habitat is well managed the birds do seem to be very friendly and show absolutely no fear of humans. I tend to frequent environments where the birds are not in contact with humans on a regular basis and the habitats tend to grow to the 12 to 14 foot height before being burned. My experience so far is that scrub-jays in less managed areas or habitats seem a bit more stand offish and although very curious will keep their distance from humans.
Now, all that being said, yesterday I was in the scrub pretty much all day. The scrub seems to have become my second home. Walking along a sandy path on a particularly windy day I noticed as I have many other times no visible scrub-jays. I could hear them, but they were not perched in the scrub oaks and long leaf pines as I would see on calm cool days. Not being very strong flyers I can understand why the scrub-jays would choose not to be perched in higher places on a windy day. My method of photographing birds is to walk short distances, listen, watch closely for activity on the ground as well as in the scrub and trees. Stop in places where I pretty much blend in with whatever is behind me and watch for a while. As I was doing this yesterday a scrub-jay appeared on the ground kicking up sand as it hopped.
I always get excited when I see scrub-jays, call me weird, but it is what it is. I took a quick shot of my little friend as it hopped through the sand. I watched it hop right into the scrub. I very carefully and quietly followed. As I followed the scrub-jay into the scrub the scrub-jay would stop, look toward me, make a couple of short but loud squawks and wait for me to take a step before it moved further into the scrub. You don't really understand just how thick the scrub is until you actually go into it. I was amazed that I was able to move and get through. It seemed my little friend, acting as a tour guide was picking a route it felt I could navigate through. I continued on into the scrub with my scrub-jay guide taking me to an area where there were rather short scrub-oaks, prickly pear cactus and lines of saw palmetto. I could hear another scrub-jay as I approached the area. The call from my tour guide changed slightly, I'm assuming it was communicating our arrival.