Tag Archives: animals

Tips for enjoying #pbcParks

Planning a visit to a Palm Beach County-operated park? Check out these tips to help make your visit a happy, healthy one.

  1. Lock your car & store your belongings properly:

Park Rangers and Law Enforcement are present at select county parks for your safety; however, if you’ll be traveling by vehicle, leave your valuables at home. Don’t leave bags, boxes, cell phones and other electronics and money on display in your vehicle. If you cannot take these items with you into the park, be sure to lock them safely in your trunk, where they’re out of view, before you arrive. Finally, lock all your doors and windows upon leaving your car.

  1. Use sun protection & stay hydrated:

Sunscreen Dispenser.jpgSun protection and hydration are especially important in South Florida’s climate. Follow these tips for proper sun protection:

  • The sun’s rays are strongest between 10am-4pm, so be especially cautious during these times.
  • If you run out of water, most county parks have drinking fountains located near restroom buildings.
  • Apply and re-apply sunscreen. Coconut Cove Water Park and select Palm Beach County beach parks offer sunscreen dispensers so patrons have access to free sun protection.
  • Wear protective clothing, like long-sleeved shirts and long pants, when possible.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Wear flip flops or shoes when walking on sand.
  1. Know ‘Trash In, Trash Out’ locations:

Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation has identified a number of parks that have “trash in, trash out” policies, including Riverbend Park, and many neighborhood parks. We ask park visitors to dispose of any waste they may carry into the park, outside the park. This ensures a clean habitat for the animals living in our parks and helps maintain an aesthetic environment for park visitors, while reducing maintenance costs.

  1. Coexist with animals:

Hundreds of animal species call our parks “home”. From wild birds to tortoises aDeer in Riverbend Park.JPGnd bobcats to alligators, every animal plays an important role in each ecosystem. Disturbing the animals in our parks may do harm to them and their ecosystems, yourself, or the people around you. Please maintain a safe distance and do not approach animals when you come across them.

Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation discourages feeding wildlife as it reduces the animal’s natural fear of humans and may create safety issues. Please take notice of signs in many of our parks denoting safety recommendations for areas which may be home to alligators.

See our blog for a video on coexisting with our parks’ animals: https://pbcparks.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/tips-on-coexisting-with-our-parks-animals/

  1. Know where you can bring your dog:

Dogs are permitted in most county parks as long as they’re on a leashDog Park.jpg no longer than six feet. Dogs are not allowed on county beaches, pools, water parks, splash parks, and these other locations.

PBC Parks operates three spacious and well-maintained dog parks for your furry friends to run, jump and play! Whether they’re big or small, your pooch will have fun at these three dog parks.

  1. Stay on the designated paths:

Bicyclists on Trail_Riverbend Park.JPGPBC Parks and Recreation makes it easy for you to explore our natural areas with park and trail maps. Veering off these paths and into areas not meant for exploration may disturb the animals and plants that live in the areas and may pose a safety risk to you and your family. Please observe these areas from the designated trails and paths, using maps and guides for assistance.

As the saying goes, #pbcParks asks that you “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time” to fully enjoy our parks.

Park Ranger information:

Park Rangers are nearby to greet and assist you, answer questions, and watch out for your well-being. If you have a question for a Palm Beach County Park Ranger, you can give them a call at 561-262-1714 or email pbcparkrangers@pbcgov.org.

Where to See and Interact with Live Animals in #pbcParks

 

Riverbend_Park_1.JPGAnimals abound in #pbcParks! As stewards of natural habitats, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation strives to maintain the habitats of a variety of animals that live in and frequent our parks and nature centers. Conserving these habitats makes visitors more aware of the ecosystem in Palm Beach County, and visiting children and families get a fun, educational experience that generates interest in contributing to conservation efforts. Find out where you can see all sorts of animals in our parks & facilities.

Interact with animals in our Nature Centers

  • Okeeheelee Nature Center: OKNC is situated inside Okeeheelee Park in West Palmokeeheelee_nature_center_2 Beach. Parents and kids have a number of opportunities to see and interact with animals inside the facility, and spot plenty of animals around the park and nature center. The nature center offers programs like deer and raptor walks where parents and kids can get a behind-the-scenes look at the center’s deer and raptor compounds, and free guided nature walks through the Pine Flatwoods Forest to learn about the plants and animals living there. Reptiles, raptors and deer are just a few of the animals kids and parents can learn about while visiting OKNC exhibits, as well as while talking to our passionate naturalists.
  • Daggerwing Nature Center: Venture out to Daggerwing Nature Center in Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park, west of Boca Raton, and explore the grounds Daggerwing_Nature_Center_9.JPGto spot the famous Daggerwing Butterfly, turtles, birds, snakes and more, in and around the facility. Inside, visit the exhibit hall, where you can see live reptiles and more, a bee theater, leaf rubbings and a nature video. Outdoors, gaze at the Florida Federation of Gardens Certified Butterfly Garden, where you’ll find a variety of the beautiful winged creatures. There is also a 40-acre nature preserve outside the facility, as well as a 0.6-mile boardwalk and observation tower, which is a great opportunity to spot wild birds, turtles, insects and others in their natural habitats.
  • Green Cay Nature Center: Located in Boynton Beach, Green Cay Nature Center is similar to Daggerwing and Okeeheelee Nature Centers. In addition to the animals you can see and interact with at the facility’s exhibits and during special GreenCay_Nature_Center_4.jpgprograms, the mile-long Chickee Hut Trail and 1/2 mile-long Tropical Hammock Trail allows visitors to spot all sorts of wildlife livingin marsh, open water pond areas, forested wetlands, and tree islands. Waterfowl, diving birds, moorhens, sparrows and more thrive in these environments, and bobcats have been found hiding within the shrubbery. Visit Green Cay Nature Center’s Bird Checklist on pbcparks.com, and you’ll find there are dozens of birds to be discovered in and around the facility.

Live animals in popular #pbcParksRiverbend_Park_2.JPG

  • Riverbend Park: A massive 665-acre park located in Jupiter, a trip to Riverbend Park will always be accompanied by a plethora of different animal species. Walk, bike or jog through the many trails where you and your family can spot deer, rabbits, turkeys, as well as other wild birds, insects and reptiles. Adjacent to Riverbend Park is Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park, where you’ll be able to see much of the same wildlife. Choose to go kayaking at Riverbend Park, and you’ll most likely spot some interesting fish, turtles, and other water wildlife.
  • Regional Parks: regional parks such as John Prince Park in Lake Worth, Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach, and Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park in Boca Raton provide the perfect opportunities to spot squirrels, lizards and wild birds, which can all be spotted from safe distances. Walk through paved trails at each of these parks and find all sorts of beautiful and interesting creatures!jpp_squirrel

For more about spotting and interacting with animals in our parks and nature centers, visit pbcParks.com.

#pbcParks Contributes to Environmental Sustainability

The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department strives to keep the plants and animals that contribute to important ecosystems thriving for generations. Our efforts help reveal a connection between park visitors and natural environments to create an appreciation and promote stewardship – because everyone deserves a healthy home.

The Office of Public Engagement created this 60-second public service announcement to depict our devotion to promoting and protecting Palm Beach County’s beautiful environmental spaces. The video includes original artwork and animation created by intern Carlos Duenas, Jr. with a voice over by Public Relations Specialist Bibi Baksh.

The mission of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department is to make the quality of life for Palm Beach County residents and visitors better by providing diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, welcoming parks, and enriching social and cultural experiences. We achieve this by promoting wellness, fostering environmental stewardship, contributing economic value, and by improving our community every day for this and future generations.

Visit pbcParks.com for more information.

Youth & Teens ‘Move & Groove’ at this year’s #pbcParks Summer Camp!

Palm Beach County’s West Boynton, Westgate & West Jupiter Recreation Facilities, as well as Aquatics, Okeeheelee Nature Center and Golf hosted a number of Summer & Specialty Camp programs to entertain kids during this year’s Summer Break. The kids went on field trips, learned about living healthy lifestyles through physical activity and healthy eating, played a number of games & activities, made tons of friends, and more!

Watch this short video for a recap of this year’s Summer Camp!

Visit pbcParks.com for more information.

Okeeheelee Nature Center Welcomes Specialty Camps, Field Trips

Did you know that our Nature Centers are the perfect field trip and camp destinations?  Okeeheelee Nature Center recently hosted a week-long specialty camp, where kids canoed, built bird houses, interacted with birds and deer that live at the Nature Center, and more. During a field trip to Okeeheelee, Green Cay or Daggerwing Nature Centers, kids can enjoy some of the same interactive and educational activities, like owl pellet dissection and animal encounters.

Okeeheelee Nature Center is operated by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department. We operate more than 80 regional, district, community, beach, and neighborhood parks, spanning several thousand acres. Our mission is to make the quality of life for Palm Beach County residents and visitors better by providing diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, welcoming parks, and enriching social and cultural experiences. This is achieved by promoting wellness, fostering environmental stewardship, contributing economic value, and by improving our community every day for this and future generations.

Visit pbcParks.com for more information.

Thousands Celebrate the Night at Dark Sky Festival

It’s not often we get a chance to turn down the lights and take in the beauty that the night sky has to offer. On Saturday, February 27, over 2,000 Palm Beach County residents, tourists, adults, kids, and nature lovers alike did just that – for free – at the fourth annual Dark Sky Festival.

People of all ages visited Palm Beach County’s Okeeheelee Nature Center from 6-10 p.m. to escape the glowing lights we are so often bombarded by, to gaze at the stars, learn about animals, and enjoy the peacefulness of the dark while having fun with their friends, family, and loved ones.

Campfire, animals, movies & more!

The night was filled with opportunities for visitors to roam the grounds, enjoying the DSC_0036
darkness. Indoors, owls, snakes, lizards and turtles gave animal lovers a chance to learn about the animals that depend on the dark for survival. Curious kids took turns dissecting owl pellets, and visitors of all ages learned about owls and bats through presentations from passionate experts.

Outdoors, active guests enjoyed guided nature hikes through the dark, while others gazed at stars and planets through telescopes. An outdoor classroom allowed guests to soak in the beauty of the night sky, while listening to campfire stories and eating s’mores.

Benji Studt, the Environmental Program Supervisor with Palm Beach County’s Environmental Resources Management, taught a workshop that introduced participants to Palm Beach County’s natural areas and the photographic and recreational opportunities that lay right outside our front doors. “I introduced participants to some tools to improve their composition skills,” said Studt.

IMG_3975_PSStudt then handed the workshop over to local artist and FAU student Max Jackson, who taught the class about techniques to photograph the night sky. After the presentation, the class enjoyed Jackson’s new short film, “Pitch Black Light, A Journey Through America’s Darkest Skies”, which shows time-lapse footage of the stars passing by iconic landscapes from across the country.  The film is a compilation of footage over the last two years, when Jackson spent his summers chasing the darkest skies in the country.  Watch “Pitch Black Light, A Journey Through America’s Darkest Skies” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQdijzuCe3A

 What is light pollution?

Seeing_Stars_Poster

The goal of the event was to teach visitors about the negative affects of light pollution and to encourage better practices with lighting. Guided night hikes, a campfire and s’mores, outdoor movies, photography workshops, bat and owl presentations, live wildlife exhibits, among other activities, helped guests appreciate the darkness.

Light pollution is the “introduction of artificial light into the environment”. The event focused on the impacts of light pollution, and the benefits of having natural night skies. Excessive light pollution threatens humans and many animals, including sea turtles, owls, bats, and others that depend on the dark sky for survival. Excessive light pollution may also waste electricity and destroy the beauty of the night sky.

Why should we “turn down the lights”?

DSC_0056Various experts, photographers, and astronomers were on hand Saturday to explain the dangers of light pollution.

“Turning down the lights helps us all,” said Studt. According to Studt, light pollution impacts a variety of animals. “The natural light provided by the night sky gives sea turtle hatchlings the ability to find the ocean when they hatch.”

Furthermore, Studt explained that migratory birds use the night sky as a roadmap to their seasonal destinations, and humans feel effects to their circadian rhythm as a result of light pollution.

“We are literally losing our stars because of light pollution,” said Callie Sharkey, manager at Okeeheelee Nature Center, who also cited research that links artificial light to breast cancer, while Studt explained, “artificial light pollution is now being linked to human disorders such as obesity and depression.”

What can you do to help?

 In addition to educating the public on the effect of light pollution, the event aimed to increase awareness on what steps can be taken to help fix the problem. You can start helping today:

  1. Check your home lights – is glare hiding potential intruders? Do your lights shine down, or out and up where energy is wasted?
  1. Turn off unnecessary lights – and use motion sensor switches for effective deterrence.
  1. Shield and lower lights, and use dark-sky friendly fixtures.
  1. Spread the word – tell businesses when you see that their lights are bad. Bad lights aren’t just unpleasant, they’re harmful, especially in coastal areas where turtles nest.

An annual event

 Each year, thousands of enthused visitors make their way to Okeeheelee Nature Center to gaze at the stars and learn about what they can do to make the night sky more visible for humans and animals the depend on it. “We had people from all ages and demographics, and the response is overwhelmingly positive…people were impressed with how unique the event was,” said Sharkey.DSC_0015

This annual event is one of the largest dark sky events in the country; it was made possible through a partnership between the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, Environmental Resources Management Department, International Dark-Sky Association, among others.

For more information on how you can help fix the problem of light pollution, please visit the International Dark-Sky Association, www.darksky.org.

View photos on Flickr

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Thousands of photos snapped at Okeeheelee’s Raptor Day

Cassandra Jean (2)
Photo Credit: Cassandra Jean

Thousands of photos were snapped at Palm Beach County’s Okeeheelee Nature Center on Saturday, January 30, as photographers of all ages captured the majestic beauty of nine birds of prey, aged 3-20 years old.

OKNC sold out of tickets for its Raptor Day photography event, welcoming 50 photographers to the facility – ranging from 11 to 93 years old! Photographers from all over the country traveled to Palm Beach County to take advantage of this unique opportunity, traveling from Michigan, Iowa, Indiana and New Jersey, just to name a few. The event even drew in some international guests.

“This was a very unique opportunity for people to see all of our birds at the same time and that’s certainly never been done and never been done for photographers,” said Callie Sharkey, the Nature Center’s manager.

The fundraising event for Friends of Okeeheelee Nature Center provided the photographers with a unique opportunity to showcase all of the raptors at the facility – various owls, hawks, falcons and others – during private sessions with the birds. The birds sat outdoors for natural lighting on real wood perches, a natural background was set up behind them, allowing the photographers to play with a more natural setting. According to Sharkey, all of the birds were cooperative for the entire event, and all of the photographers were respectful of the birds. Some of the birds even took to roosting and preening, signs that they were comfortable with their environment.

Seven of the birds were from Okeeheelee Nature Center, while the other two were from Daggerwing and Green Cay Nature Centers. All of the birds photographed during the event are cared for at Palm Beach County’s three nature centers as they are non-releasable. Each bird has been through rehab for various reasons, whether they have been wounded by humans or arrived at the nature center as a fully imprinted bird.

Matteo Cappella
Photo Credit: Matteo Cappella

Sharkey said the Nature Center would like to plan this event again in the future, as it allows photographers – both professional and amateur – to gain a respect for the animals they’re photographing and become further educated on why the animals are being cared for at the nature centers, which leads to further conservation efforts. Promoting stewardship of nature and natural sites is a core service of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department.

Okeeheelee Nature Center is owned and operated by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department and is located in Okeeheelee Park at 7715 Forest Hill Blvd in West Palm Beach.

We’d love to see your photos! If you have a photo taken at the Raptor Day event, you can share it on the Friends of Okeeheelee Nature Center’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfOkeeheeleeNatureCenter/

Check out the photos submitted below, and be sure to keep checking our blog for more photos as they come in!

View photos on Flickr

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