Scrub Jays and How They can Ruin Your Day

Do you know what a scrub jay is? If you’re looking for land for sale in Florida, or own land in Florida, scrub jays can make your life extremely difficult.

We buy and sell a lot of land in Florida, and one of the things you need to know about land in Florida is that in certain parts of the state, you will come across scrub jays. 

Credit: Laura Erikson

Credit: Laura Erikson

So, what is a scrub jay? Well, it’s a tiny bird, about 10 inches in length, only weighs about 80 grams. They’re the less attractive cousin of the blue jay. They emit this annoying little squawk, not the most welcoming noise. 

Looks harmless, doesn’t it?


This particular species of birds with the blue and gray, are only found in Florida, which makes it a top species for birders across the country to observe. As Florida has continued to develop, the scrub jays, which again remember are only found in Florida, have lost their habitats. No habitat means population decline. 

This species has been on the threatened state species list since 1975, and there has been a lot of effort by regional and state authorities to preserve this little bird. 

What does that have to do with buying and selling land? Well, if you buy a property that is  in a scrub jay zone, you are now at the whim of these birds. You’re going to have to get special permits from the U.S Fish and Wildlife service, and permission before you do anything to the lot. The permits for these lots with scrub jays will be more expensive than for the permits without. 

County officials will have to visit your property, and it might take a year or so before you get any approvals on your permits. 

If you decide to clear the lot and you don’t have any of the approved permits, you could be facing a $100,000 fine as an individual, and a $200,000 fine as a corporation! Definitely not the best decision.

How do you check if the property is in a scrub jay zone? Thankfully, there are resources online for you to use. You can check with the county’s GIS mapping system. For example in Charlotte County, you can access an interactive layer on their GIS mapping that has the scrub jay boundaries outlined. Any area marked with a solid red is a scrub jay zone, and you would need a special permit for. You can also search by address and parcel number if you’re considering buying a specific piece of property. 

If you’re going through the mapper and you’ve realized that you own a property that’s in a scrub jay zone, it’s okay. When I first started investing in land, I made that same mistake. 

Thankfully, it is possible to get the permits approved and the land cleared. You just need to go through the right steps and have a little bit of patience. There are still great properties that are located in these scrub jay zones, so don’t write them off completely, just make sure you do your homework to make a well-informed decision. 

Have you ever bought land in a scrub jay zone? Let me know - I’m curious to know how that worked out for you, leave a comment below!