3rd annual Florida scrub-jay festival at Oscar Scherer State Park
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Media contact: Gary Morse, 863-648-3852
Oscar Scherer State Park in Sarasota County is hosting the third annual Florida Scrub-Jay Festival on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to celebrate this true Florida native. The festival is designed to teach visitors about the fascinating characteristics of Florida scrub-jays and the resources they need to survive. Admission to the festival, including programs and tours, is free.
The Florida scrub-jay is the only bird found exclusively in Florida. As its name implies, the scrub-jay lives in a plant community called scrub, which is, well, scrubby. The scrub-jay is listed as a threatened species, because its numbers are decreasing, primarily due to loss of the native scrub habitat it needs to survive.
Scrub habitat is characterized by deep, well-drained, sandy soils and shrubby oaks. Historically, periodic fires in the scrub maintained the low, open conditions favored by scrub-jays. However, now, much of the scrub habitat in the state is overgrown and unsuitable for scrub-jays due to a lack of fire. In areas managed for scrub-jays and other scrub species, land managers use prescribed fire to maintain the habitat in prime condition so these animals have a chance to flourish.
The festival will include live music, food, guided hikes, tram rides, kids’ activities, environmental exhibits, native scrub plants for sale, presentations and a roundtable with experts on scrub-jays and their habitat. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Florida scrub-jay conservation coordinator and biologists from partner agencies and organizations will be on hand to lead guided hikes, participate in the roundtable and answer visitors’ questions.
Festival sponsors include Friends of Oscar Scherer Park Inc., Around the Bend Nature Tours LLC, FedEx Kinko’s, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Scrub-Jay Consortium, Quest Ecology and the Sarasota Folk Club. Oscar Scherer State Park, the FWC, and the education and outreach committee of the Northeast Florida Scrub Working Group worked together to organize the event.
For more information on the festival, visit www.friendsofoscarscherer.com or call 941-483-5956.