Scrub Jays at Dicerandra Sanctuary

Posted by Dean Pettit on 28. February 2012

Dicerandra Sanctuary Hike; Titusville, Florida, Date; 02/20/2012

Dicerandra Sanctuary as seen from the scrub ridgeThe Dicerandra Sanctuary is a property purchased and maintained by the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered lands Program and lies within the city of Titusville. It is so named due to a plant that exists there and in the surrounding area, but is not known to exist anywhere else. Dicerandra Thinicola is one of five Dicerandra species known to exist in Florida and each has a very localized population on various sand ridges, or ancient beach dunes throughout the state. The Dicerandra Sanctuary is 44 acres in size and has about a 1 mile hiking trail that loops around the property and habitats range from a depression wetlands on the east side to Atlantic Coastal Ridge Scrub Habitat to the west.  The property is also home to many other species including Florida Scrub Jays, Gopher Tortoise, various Raptors, songbirds, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, and more. In my opinion it is the Scrub Jays that are the star of this hike and this is a must hike for birders wanting to add Florida Scrub Jay to their life list. This particular bird is native to Florida only.  Though it is very similar to Scrub Jays found out west, the Florida Scrub Jay is it’s own unique species. They are very socialble and the population at the Dicerandra Sanctuary will come to you. A pair will mate for life and the older offspring of that pair will stay with the family group after the next group of hatchlings arrive to help raise their younger siblings.  

Florida Scrub Jay at the Dicerandra SanctuaryAs you head into the property from the trailhead off of Melissa Drive in Titusville, the trail will take you to the west through a short section of woodlands along the south end of the depression marsh and intersect with a fire-brake used for the management of controlled burns. Turn to your left and walk along the firebreak and you will see the Pine Flatwoods to your left and the Depression Marsh to the right. Be sure to scan the grass marsh. If there is any standing water you may see Sand Hill Cranes, Egrets, Herons and other species, while the trees along the right side of the trail along the marsh will harbor many smaller migrants. To the west scan the pine flat-woods for raptors and especially the dead trees for woodpecker nesting cavities. A couple of hundred yards along the firebreak trail you will come to an intersection with a hiking only trail heading to the west. This will lead you through the pine flat-woods and up into the Xeric Scrub of the Ridge. On the way up look for Mockingbirds, Blue Jays, and Rufous Towhees. You will soon come to another intersection of hiking trails. Keep heading up and you are in Scrub Jay Territory and you will soon see the fence that borders the western edge of the property. Stand and wait a few minutes and if all goes well the jays will begin to approach you. On this day I was armed with two video cameras and one digital SLR and was rewarded by some great video and stills of a family group of Scrub Jays that not only approached me to within 5 feet, but would follow me if I moved a short distance, allowing me to fill my Nikon’s memory card with great Scrub Jay close-ups. Another great day along Florida’s Space Coast!

Dicerandra Sanctuary Scrub Jay EncounterClick here to see a video of this trip.

Just MeIf you are a birder or a wildlife photographer whose adventures carry you to Central Florida, the Dicerandra Sanctuary in Titusville is a must visit.
It is open 7 days a week, dawn to dusk.
Directions; From US-1 Take SR 50 0.7 miles to the west and turn left on Key Largo, go 0.4 miles and turn right on Karen Drive. Go less than 0.1 mile, turn right and go to the end of Melissa Drive. Enter on foot.
From Interstate 95 and the State Road 50 exit drive 2.3 miles to the east and turn right on Key Largo, go 0.4 miles and turn right on Karen Drive. Go less than 0.1 mile, turn right and go to the end of Melissa Drive. Enter on foot.

Go to Space Coast Outdoors WebsiteFor more information about Birding, Fishing, Hiking, Kayaking, Biking, Backcountry Camping, Surfing, Snorkeling and more along Florida’s Space Coast go to 
www.spacecoastoutdoors.net 
           

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