One of the endemic species to Florida, the Florida Scrub Jay is a rarity you will not want to miss on a trip to Merritt Island. FSJ's have all the brilliant blues and gray of the common Blue Jay, but you will note- no crest! These gregarious jays are cooperative studies for visiting birders, but their social habits place them in even greater danger of extinction.
Their scattered population needs a very distinct habitat- Florida Scrub, an extremely dry habitat. Their ideal environment is a relatively open flatwoods of oak or sand pine scrub with trees less than 10 feet tall. Unfortunately, this is a habitat easy to convert into development, and while it was thought Jay would just relocate, it turns out they have great fidelity to a site.
Add in the happy tourists, wanting to see and "help" the Florida Scrub Jays with food hand-outs. Studies proved these over fed bird reproduced earlier in the season, and the survival of their young was greatly reduced. It is ironic, despite the protections, the Scrub Jay is still thought to be on the decline. Note: it's against the law to feed or harass wildlife, and doing so may result in a fine.
Photo by Wikipedia