Florida Scrub Jay

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge


Mark Kosinski
Landscape and Nature Photographer

Merritt National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National  Wildlife Refuge is a bit of a long drive from Orlando but well worth the effort.  The wildlife refuge is situated within view of Kennedy Space Center.  The vehicle assembly buildings are clearly visible from various points in the refuge.  We drove through the refuge to the areas we were most interested in.  The refuge is quite large (218 mi2 ), but has roadways to allow vehicular traffic to areas of interest to visitors.  There is a $5.00 per vehicle entrance fee for entry into the Black Point Wildlife Drive.  
Roseate SpoonbillsTricolor HeronFlorida Scrub Jay

Black Point Wildlife Drive

The refuge is teaming with wildlife.  We saw almost every species of water bird native to Florida.  Our trip was planned around seeing and photographing the Florida Scrub Jay.  We were definitely delighted with our experience with the Florida Scrub Jays.  At Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge all of the Florida Scrub Jays we saw were banded.  This drives the point home that these creatures are on the National Threatened Species List.  Walking in the Wildlife Refuge is easy and almost all areas of the refuge would be easily accessed by someone in a wheelchair.  As large as this refuge is it was extremely clean.  It appears that not only does the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service patrol and clean but from what we saw the visitors do too.

Exploring Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge

Plan an entire day at the Wildlife Refuge.  We saw more in a few hours at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge than we normally see in an entire day at other locations.  If you are especially interested in Florida Scrub Jays, this is one of the must go to locations.  The Scrub Jays at Merritt Island exhibit the behaviors people have read about.  They are extremely friendly and inquisitive.  The scrub jay pictured in this post is all the same bird.  It followed us and really wanted to interact.  Bear in mind, it is discouraged to touch or feed wild birds or animals.  It teaches them to be dependent upon humans. 
Merritt Island view of Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center
Florida Scrub Jay