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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Scrub Jay Trail

We're biking along - amidst the orange groves of central Florida when we see an unusual sign.

Florida Scrub-jay Crossing.

We stop. Look around. No scrub jays in sight.

Luckily there is Google.

So back in the hotel we slaked our curiosity finding a delightful story behind that intriguing sign.

That sign was raised by the city fathers at the behest of Sarah Morningstar, a 10 year old girl who fell in love with these friendly little blue birds.

Sarah discovered that the jays were being hit by cars near their habitat at the BB Brown Garden. So she started a campaign to raise the sign.

And there is more to the story.

This charming bird needs scrub habitat - not always the most beautiful to the human eye, but rich in food and shelter to the jay.

And we're at risk of losing the scrub jay since so much scrub habitat has been converted to orange groves, traditional lawns and golf courses. The scrub jay only lives in Florida and has been losing ground for years.

But the people of Clermont, Florida now are working together to save their little bird. BB Brown Gardens host classes on habitat restoration and gardening for birds. They have created a trail of habitat of interconnecting private lands with bird-friendly landscaping.

They even have scrub jay habitat at their local post office, the schools, the welcome center and the Humane Society of Clermont.

The BB Brown Garden has acres of scrub habitat inhabited by scrub jays, gopher tortoises, and the occasional visiting panther.

What a wonderful story how a community can be drawn together in their love of a single bird.

And how wonderful to follow a roadside sign to such a story.

Scrub Jay Trail
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