Audubon Florida News

Audubon Celebrates Jay Watch Volunteers in Lake Wales

posted on November 13, 2013 in Citizen Science,Florida Scrub-Jay,Volunteering

Safari Minnie helped Audubon's Jacqui Sulek greet volunteers at the registration table.Now in the second year under Audubon Florida’s umbrella the Jay Watch program is thriving as evidenced by the big turnout this past weekend.  On Saturday, Nov. 9, 75 Jay Watch volunteers from around the state came together at Bok Tower Gardens to celebrate their efforts in 2013.

Special guest, Disney’s Safari Minnie, and Audubon’s Jacqui Sulek shared registration duties and distributed the gorgeous new Jay Watch hats.  The program was kicked off by Marianne Korosy, Audubon’s Jay Watch Coordinator, with an overview of the status of the program and the birds and recognition of volunteers from each site.  In 2013, 258 volunteers invested 2,044 hours in Florida Scrub-Jay surveys and training sessions!

Marianne thanked the Jay Watch program sponsors, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, Wells Fargo, the Batchelor Foundation, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

We had our cake!Michelle Dent, Research Biologist from Archbold Biological Station, provided a comprehensive history of the Station’s 44 years of research on Florida Scrub-Jays.  The note-taking audience was full of questions on jay behavior and ecology.  After a delicious lunch catered by the Blue Palmetto Café, Jess Rodriguez, Northeast Florida Volunteer Coordinator for FWC, unveiled a masterpiece of a cake decorated with a Florida Scrub-Jay and the Jay Watch logo.

Jay Watch volunteer hatEven habitual afternoon nappers perked up to listen to St. Johns River Water Management District Biologist and land manager, Maria Zondervan.  Although probably not too amusing at the time, Maria’s “lessons learned” had the crowd howling with laughter as she shared stories on Scrub-Jay translocation efforts around the state.

There were representatives from various agencies, US Fish and Wildlife Service, FWC, and the Water Management Districts, but most of the attendees were Jay Watch volunteers. Without whom the Jay Watch program would not exist.

Maria Zondervan, SJRWMD Biologist, kept the audience laughing with tales of trials and tribulations of Scrub-Jay translocation projects.When asked what motivated them to do Jay Watch volunteers exclaimed, “it’s fun”, “it’s something the whole family can do together”, and “it’s a way to see special places that you would not otherwise visit”. 

“Coming together makes you realize that you are part of something greater than yourself and it really lifts your spirits and level of enthusiasm,” shared another.

The camaraderie, laughter, informative presentations, Jay Watch logo hats, and tasty lunch were shared in a celebration the provided an opportunity to thank these dedicated volunteers.  And then there was the cake.  We got to eat it too!



  1. Congratulations and thank you to all the hard working volunteers and land managers of Jay Watch! What a year– well done!

    Comment by Julie Wraithmell — November 13, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

  2. Plaudits for this worthy effort. Now, lets restart the move to make this special bird our rightful state bird. With all due respect to the trusty ole mocker, its time to declare the scrub jay Florida’s state bird since we are the only state with this particular species. Let’s do it!

    Comment by Bill Stokes — November 14, 2013 @ 11:30 am

  3. Thanks Jess for all your work to make Jay Watch a success!

    Comment by Jerrie Lindsey — November 14, 2013 @ 10:24 pm

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