Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Come on out and get a bird on your head.

Tuesday March 4, 2014
Blue Spring State Park
Orange City, Florida


Every day begins with a visit to the manatee.

The day starts out nicely with a walk up to the head spring on the beautiful Blue Spring boardwalk.  The manatee are here in small numbers and they are playing with a log today.









Walking back down I see a number of manatee just resting.  I notice Pixie. I’m worried about her. They say she is not going out to eat. When the rest of the manatee leave the spring for good as the weather warms, if she hangs around alone in the spring for a month without going out to eat, they will take her back to Sea world and try again next year.














It’s time for breakfast and David picks the place.


Today is the day we are going back to actually hike in Lyonia Preserve but first David is ready to get his restaurant breakfast for this location.   This seems to have become a sort of ritual with him.  It used to be one breakfast out a month and he’s worked it into one at each stop.  Pretty sneaky huh?

It is a toss up between ‘Doug and Lil’s Potato Patch’ and Paul Hunter’s since 1949’.   David has a terminal case of nostalgia so Hunter wins out.  It did get a bit of an edge due to a recommendation from Paula.

As we pull up in front of Hunter’s, we see the big Mr. Bill’s sign.   DONUTS!   We decide to go check out these home town donuts first and pick up a couple for tomorrow’s breakfast.   We are served by Mr. Bill himself (well, by his son who has taken over the bakery from his father.)   But I’m afraid, for me,  Mr. Bill cannot compete with Spudnuts.  He has no coconut donuts.  He does have David’s favorite cake donuts so this makes him happy.






Ok now it’s time to get back to today’s breakfast.   Hunter’s  is just exactly like a place  you might have eaten in during the late 50’s or early 60’s. Only the flat screen TVs give away what year it actually is. Two eggs any way, bacon or sausage, hash browns, home fries or grits and toast or home made biscuits $5.99. Great price for breakfast in 2014. Wonder what it cost in 1950???






By the look on David’s face, he seems to be wondering where it all went.   Sure wish I’d gotten a picture of these nice home made biscuits before they were all gone.








Now for that hike it was too hot to take yesterday.




Well fortified we are finally able to get back to Lyonia Preserve to walk the trails.   It’s a beautiful day for this hike.  Blue skies, temperatures in the mid 70’s, gorgeous setting.   There are 3 loop trails here ranging in length from a half mile loop to a 3.5 mile loop if you combine all three.    That’s what we do of course.








We start out seeing cardinals and towhees, a mockingbird. We hear lots of smaller birds like perhaps blue gray gnatcatchers.






We are quite a way along the trail before I hear the first jay.


I stop and go searching for him. I find him but just as I do, off he goes.








We continue and are nearly half way around before we hear the jay again. He flies into a tree near us.  He seems to love these beautiful pines like I do. 










We follow him all over with our binoculars and our cameras. 


He sits, he flies, he flits. He’s up, he’s down.










And then……….




David is taking a picture of him when ZOOM, the bird is on his hat.   We’d actually been told by Olivia that this was a good possibility and that if we wanted a bird on our head we should find something sparkly.   Well I wore my rhinestone ball cap but I’m not the first thing this jay was interested in.   He went for the Beach Bum Biker Hat on Mr. “born to be mild”.

At first David didn’t move a muscle.  The bird isn’t in the tree, he’s on his head but the camera is still pointed at where the bird WAS.












I’m taking pictures of the bird on David’s head when the wings whir, the breeze goes by my face and he lands on my head.  It’s such a shock.  I jump and gasp.  I have a bird on my head.  

Just as he did with David, he walks down to the edge of the brim of my hat and looks over to see me.   David wears glasses so there’s no danger but the jay’s beak is so close to my eyes that I slowly lift my camera back up for fear he might peck me.   It’s quite a shock to have a bird looking over your hat brim at you.  What a riot!!  Maybe he is wondering what that white stuff is on my face?  So I tell him, “I never go out for a day in the sun without heavy zinc sunscreen”.









I can’t stop grinning.  I have a bird on my head.




As silly as he is, the scrub jay is really quite handsome.

He’s much different than the eastern Blue Jays we are accustomed to. He’s a softer blue and smaller. He’s somehow a bit more elegant although it is very curious and a bit of a clown. We didn’t see that bully aspect the big jay always seems to display.  But he does have attitude.  I love it!












Now the jays are on the increase.


We hang around this spot watching him for I don’t know how long.  Perhaps he put out some sort of call but pretty soon there was another jay.





And in a flash one is on David’s hat again pecking on it this time.  Boy it’s a good thing he is wearing a hat.  Imagine what a jay could do to a bald head.







We are laughing like kids as we walk on. 

They fly back and forth around us calling to each other.  The further we walk, the more jays there are.   It’s amazing.  When we first came out, we walked half way around and saw only one from a distance.  Now there are four or five on top of us.  Maybe more.  There seem to be several groups.   A family can be 8 jays.  Maybe they are all here.


We walk down the sand hill and are in the last quarter of the hike.  They are still with us.





I walk over to a bush to take yet more pictures of one.  They are just not at all afraid.  He sees my shiny hat and jumps aboard.   I can’t stop laughing or taking pictures of them.  We have HUNDREDS of pictures of these jays, it took forever to go through them.








Now he’s pecking at my hat. 


I later discover that I am missing about a half dozen of the “jewels” on top.  Small price to pay.  This will forever be my “scrub jay hat”.







Hat pecking is one thing but this is going just a bit too far.


We are almost at the end of the trail when one flies up and lands on the trail marker and from there jumps onto David’s hand.  Now I think that is very cool.  Until he starts pecking at David’s fingernail.  This is where the difference between the two of us shows up.  At that point, I doubt I could have held as still as a statue.  But David did. 










Until one of the thumbnail pecks misses and gets the edge of his thumb.  That got a reaction!









Luckily we are just at the OUT sign and have only a short distance to go before we can return to the Center and get an alcohol wipe, “just in case”.  David’s white cell count is just barely in the normal range and I can only imagine what Dr. Shain from Moffitt Cancer Center would have to say about this.




We had a simply wonderful afternoon with the Scrub Jays at Lyonia Preserve and spent the last half of it just laughing out loud at how fantastic they were.


So take a tip from this guy with attitude–
“Listen up!!  Come on out. You’ll learn a lot about me  and just maybe I’ll land on your head too”




  1. Amazing Scrub Jay event!

    So many people come to Florida and hope to see one, you guys just wear them!

    While waiting for the 13:00 hrs boat ride, Pixie swam out past the white PVC pipe rope with her GPS and the dove with it below the water. She knows how to get out of the spring. I have pics as proof.

    I met another blogger today and he gave me a much needed ride.

  2. Gosh, he is beautiful and how fun that he wanted to hang out with (on) you all!! Lovely pictures as always!!

  3. That's just hilarious! Good thing you guys were wearing hats. I think you too are the Dr. Doolittles of Florida :) With the Jays & Manatees, they'll be talking soon!

  4. Those jays are hilarious. I know they are bold, but these take "bold" to a new dimension. I loved the first photo - the boardwalk stretching out ahead and around a curve. I can almost feel myself walking and turning that curve!

  5. Too much fun. I love it. I want a jay on my head!

  6. What a fun experience you had. I too would have taken dozens of photos. I had no idea these birds could be so bold.

  7. Wonderful day and fabulous pictures of the scrub jay. Who knew birds could be so much fun to play with? That is until they go too far as in that picture of him about to hammer my thumb and draw blood to end it all. You can see his neck up and ready to give me his best shot, which he did. Wonder what he was thinking. BTW, the picture of the hot rod Ford in front of Paul Hunter's restaurant in the early 50s is the same model as my first car which I drove from 1964 to 1987 - well over 200,000 miles.

  8. I am sorry, I would be freaked out they would 'poop' on me!!! Didn't u even think of that?

  9. Those scrub jays just wanted to get a closer look at the World's Greatest Nature Lovers.

    Or maybe they were looking for leftover breakfast biscuit crumbs? ;c)

  10. You are having fun with the wildlife this winter in FL, this is awesome.

  11. We have Scrub Jays in Oregon but I doubt they are that friendly and I'm with Loree, they poop just like the sea gulls and I've had that happen to me before.

  12. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! I am so glad you got a chance to experience the scrub jays up close. Lyonia Preserve is truly a hidden gem. Olivia loved the winter break camp there and is anxiously waiting for summer camp! I've often thought scrub jays should be recognized as our state bird. And, I'm grateful we have this and so many other amazing natural places in our own backyard. :)

  13. So great to have something like that happen! You guys sure are experiencing some wonderful wonderful close encounters with nature lately!

  14. Wonderful encounter with the scrub jay. Several years ago florida school children presented a petition to have our state bird changed from the Mockingbird to the Scrub Jay. The Jay got scrubed because our GOP leaders consider him a poor role model because he steals other birds nests- true story.

  15. Why does this post make me think of Alfred Hitchcock?

  16. And I am wondering if that tracking device has something to do with Pixie's reluctance to swim out. And to return her to SeaWorld would be torture.

  17. Now that is super cool :) I can imagine the laughter and fun. One of those great moments. A bird on your head and on your hand-they sure are comfortable with people! Excellent pictures! Looks like that was a good breakfast place. I hope Pixie will start wanting to eat breakfast!!

  18. I sure hope Pixie starts going out to eat, but at least she's being watched by the manatee rescue folks and will be given another chance for rehab.

    I think those scrub jays have been fed a few too many peanuts and were disappointed that you and David didn't have any for them. Great shots you got and such a fun day. We had the same thing happen to us a few years in the trails behind Oscar Scherer campground. We've had them on our head, but never our hand. Yep...Al is just reading the post, and he agrees. They were definitely looking for peanuts.

  19. What a hoot, imagine it is because too many folks have fed them. Hope Pixie gets things figured out at least she has folks keeping an eye on her.

  20. Love the Scrub Jay:o)) What great photos of a really fun experience!! If a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush, wonder what a bird on the head is worth?!?!?! I really think you should have hung on to that Ford Hot Rod...it would have made a wonder toad;o))

  21. So glad you add so many photos of this awesome walk with the jays!! I can't get over how tame they were. Really pretty birds.

  22. Now that is too funny but it would have freaked me out!

  23. only you two....that had to be the best fun ever!

  24. Those birds must be so used to being fed, they just expect everyone to give them something. Or maybe they just liked your hats!

  25. Wonderful...you sure have some great times playing
    with the locals!!!

  26. great shots of the manatees! jeeeez I like doughnuts. home fries and all that stuff.

    pretty birds! the bird flew on his hat??? oh, joy! I would have been squealing… awww man? then on your head?? oh, double joy … love it!!! scrub jay… wow … I have never seen that … look at his expressions! whatta jaybird… best blog post of the century! look at that little guy!

  27. What a fun post! Those jays are so pretty! I am surprised that they are so bold. The pictures are wonderful! I especially like the one right before "the jays are on the increase" part of the blog. One of the ones on your head has his head turned to the side so he can see you. The one on David's hand has his head down looking at his camera- the shape he has himself in is really pretty. xxxooo

  28. Hilarious! We have lots of Western scrub jays in Oregon -- they're very social and intelligent and are continually burying acorns in our vegetable garden to retrieve later. But they certainly don't land on us! We would love to see the Florida scrub jays, so we'll be following in your footsteps! :-)

  29. OMG, they landed on your heads/hats, thumb!

  30. marvelous! what lovely memories you'll have from this visit.

  31. What a wonderful experience you & David must have had. I can only hope I get to do the same. I'm keeping a list of great places to go by following along with blogs like yours. Enjoy.

  32. Amazing, and quite an great experience. I would love to have a bird on my head too. I can feel the excitement and giddiness.

  33. You have a great blog. I just started looking and it makes me yearn to see Florida again. The sand is so glaringly white, beautiful. The birds are quite lovely. I'm surprised they are sociable. The jays in Tennessee act nothing like this; rascals sure like dive bombing the cats though. What a way to live, you are very lucky to be able to do as you please.

  34. Unbelievable! Amazing! Thanks for sharing. Beautiful pictures.


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