Incest is not all that uncommon in nature, especially in fragmented habitats where the nearest other members of a given species are impractically too far away to interact with. At the Indian River Club this seems to be the case involving the lone Florida Scrub-Jay family remaining on the property. Today’s count for the annual Jay Watch report revealed the Jays have produced three young this year. A phenomenal achievement given they produced no young last year. What gives a tinge of the dark side, though, is while the male breeder and his daughter from a previous year are present, the female breeder is missing leading one to think that the father and his daughter hooked up this year to produce the three seemingly healthy, active, and plump Brownheads squawking around the territory.
Other, less likely, possibilities include:
1. The female breeder was killed after producing the current fledglings and the daughter is filling in as a helper/surrogate mother
2. This is a new female who has moved into the territory and taken up with the male breeder who divorced his previous mate.
3. Confusion over the banding mixed up the daughter and the mother meaning this really is the female breeder from previous years.
My attempt at a flow chart documenting the current familial conundrum.
Two of the three very curious and engaging Brownheads.
A Brownhead begs for food.
The three Brownheads posing together on a branch.
The three Brownheads excited that Dad, second up from bottom right, may feed them.
Dad feeds one of the Brownheads. The female Scrub-Jay was also seen feeding the young birds along with Dad.
Dad goes after a Crow flying over the territory.
The much larger Crow with Dad in hot pursuit chasing the interloper away.
Portrait of a proud father.
Thank you to Joe Carroll and Susan Boyd for including me in today’s monitoring.