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‘Coloring the Earth’

17th Annual Children’s Environmental Art Contest under way

By Staff | Mar 9, 2023

All children in Lee County ages 5 through 12 are invited to participate in the 17th Annual Children’s Environmental Art Contest “Coloring the Earth.” Organized by Friends of the Cape Coral Library and The Cape Coral-Lee County Public Library, the theme for 2023 is Save the Florida scrub-jay and ways to protect Florida’s only endemic bird from habitat loss and other main threats.

Winners will be selected from four age categories: 5-6, 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12. There will be five awards for each age group with certificates for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, as well as for two honorable mentions. Awarded artwork will be exhibited at the library until June 29 and displayed on “http://www.capefriends.org” rel=”noopener noreferrer” target=”_blank”>capefriends.org under “Art Gallery” tab. A wildlife expert will be the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony to be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, May 10, at the Cape Coral-Lee County Public Library.

Contest Rules and Deadline

• Open to all children ages 5 through 12. Submit one entry only.

• Entries should be on a flat medium to heavy-weight art paper size 8.5 inches x 11 inches. Watercolor, crayons, pencils, color markers and/or any other preferred material may be used. Please do not fold artwork.

• Write clearly on the back of the entry the following information: name, age, school, grade level and teacher’s name (if applicable), phone number and email address. Entries with incomplete information won’t be considered.

• Visit this website to learn more about ways residents can help Save the Florida Scrub-Jay .

• Artwork will be viewed and voted on by recognized local artists, a wildlife specialist and a representative of The News-Press. Entries will be judged based on originality and quality of art. Winners will be notified by phone the first week of May, 2023.

• Neither the Library nor the FOCCL are responsible for lost or damaged artwork. All entries will be returned by directly contacting Art Contest Chair, Alessia Leathers at alessialeathers@yahoo.com.

• Deadline: To participate in the contest all artwork must be received by noon, Saturday, April 29. The Cape Coral-Lee County Public Library will have a designated box in the children’s area to receive entries. Questions? Contact Alessia Leathers at alessialeathers@yahoo.com.

About the Florida Scrub-Jay

This is what Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tells us about the Florida scrub-jay:

• The Florida scrub-jay is the only species of bird that is endemic to Florida. That is, this bird can only be found in the Sunshine state.

• Their diet consists mainly of insects, frogs, toads, lizards, mice, bird eggs and acorns.

• Unlike blue jays, this species does not have black markings or a crest. Scrub-jays have blue wings, head and tail, and gray back and underparts, and a whitish forehead and neck.

• Scrub-jays are non-migratory, breed from March to June, and typically defend the same nesting territory year after year.

• They inhabit scrubby flatwoods, mainly ancient sandy ridges that run down the middle of the state, old sand dunes along the coasts and sandy deposits along rivers in the interior of the state. Scrub-jays do best in areas that contain large quantities of oak shrubs.

Ways to Save the Florida Scrub-Jay

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the scrub-jay population has declined 90% in the past century mainly due to habitat destruction, fragmentation and degradation from development and agriculture. It is federally listed as a threatened species and protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Here are some ways everyone can help them:

Plant and protect scrub patches on your property. Maintain a maximum height of 10 feet for vegetation, if you live on or near a scrub-jay habitat.

Protect them from family pets, especially cats. Pet cats that live outdoors are a major threat.

Do not feed them since the food they get on their own is the right kind of food, especially for their growing young.

Join the Jay Watch, an Audubon’s community state-wide program that trains and supports volunteers to conduct scientific surveys that measure annual nesting success and the total number of Florida scrub-jays at more than 40 sites around Florida. For more information on how to become a volunteer, contact fl.audubon.org/jaywatch.

For additional information, please contact Alessia Leathers, Art Contest Chairman at alessialeathers@yahoo.com.