Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Of Florida's 400 different kinds of birds, only the Florida scrub jay is found only in Florida. The Florida scrub of the Lake Wales Ridge is the oldest of Florida's dry land habitats. It was all that existed of Florida during global warming and higher ocean levels more than two million years ago. The desert-like scrub is a harsh environment and the Florida scrub jay has honed skills to perfection as a citizen of this scrub. The Florida scrub jay depends on acorns, burying many in times of plenty for retrieval in times of scarcity. Many acorns buried are never retrieved, but begin growing, continuing the scrub habitat the birds require. Florida scrub jays have a unique social system: they're cooperative breeders. Scrub jay real estate is rare, so offspring continue to live with their parents paying the rent by helping defend the family territory, and helping raise their parents’ next brood. In good times, the family may be able to claim a large territory, and junior may be able to carve out a corner as his own. Or if a parent dies, he may inherit the old home. In bad times, a family group rather than a single pair is better able to defend limited resources.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.