American Alligators, the Florida State Reptile, are common in South Florida — and can even be spotted in some PBC Parks. In this episode of Animal Encounters, Daggerwing Nature Center Manager, Sean Mallee, shares some interesting facts about the American Alligator, including a number of useful adaptations the reptiles have! This episode features Nibbles, an Animal Ambassador at Daggerwing Nature Center.
Written by Autumn Horne, Asstistant Naturalist, Daggerwing Nature Center
Here at Daggerwing Nature Center, the bat houses are open for business! Our small homestead is accepting all qualified members of the Order Chiroptera with echolocation in good standing. Chiroptera, which is Greek for “hand wing,” is the order to which all bats belong, and we are excited to have collaborated with fellow hand-wing lovers Shari Blisset-Clark and John Clark of the Florida Bat Conservancy to erect a whole new bat housing development on the Nature Center’s grounds in Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park. As nocturnal species, native bats spend all day at home, and what a privilege it is to be able to provide our fellow airborne earthlings with a safe roost in which to rest their weary wings.
But bats aren’t the only beneficiaries of the arrangement, we humans win too! Bats play an essential role in keeping our ecosystem healthy and functioning, they’re great pest control, seed-dispersers, and pollinators. Plus bats are the only mammals capable of true flight, and it’s tough to beat an early evening sighting of bat-crobatics.
Here in Florida, we have 13 resident bat species (either found year-round or seasonally), two of which are listed as endangered: the Florida bonneted bat and the gray myotis. However bats can be found everywhere on the planet except in some extreme deserts, polar regions, and on certain isolated islands. Our Florida bats are all considered insectivores, and a single little brown bat can eat as many as 1,000 insects in just an hour! Told you it was a win-win situation. And after they eat all those bugs, what happens on the other end? Well, if you can make it past the ick factor, bat poop, also called guano, is some super sensational excrement. Guano is an amazing fertilizer, has little odor, is fungicidal, and is sometimes even sparkly…move over unicorn poop!
But why become a bat landlord? Can’t bats find their own houses? Currently nearly 40% of American bat species are in severe decline, or already listed as threatened or endangered. According to Bat Conservation International, “…bats are under unprecedented threat from widespread habitat destruction, hunting, accelerated climate change, invasive species, and other stresses. Without concerted international action, their populations will continue to fall, driving many species to extinction.” And as we know, bats fertilize, bats pollinate, bats disperse seeds, they keep the insect population in check, so by creating safe homes for bats, we are not only helping insure the survival of a fellow creature, but their survival ensures our survival as well! To quote John Muir, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
So here’s to all our chiropteran friends, and a huge thank you to Shari and John for the important work they do with Florida Bat Conservancy. If you’d like to learn more, stop by the nature center and have a chat with a naturalist, or visit floridabats.org.
Did you know that the Bald Cypress Tree is a water-loving tree? Daggerwing Nature Center Naturalist Lila Capra takes us through some cool facts about the Bald Cypress Tree, including how it’s beneficial for both humans and wildlife!
Welcome to Power of Parks, a podcast produced by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, where we share inspiring stories from people who have benefited from nature, parks and recreation. Episode 11 features Emily Briceno, Jemma Currie, and Marina Barto. They’re students who lead a group called Surface 71, a non-profit organization that helps keep our oceans and communities clean by raising awareness of plastic pollution, hosting and participating in cleanup events in parks and beaches, and working to get other students involved in their efforts.
Do you know how Kingsnakes find their food using their tongue? Daggerwing Nature Center Manager, Sean Mallee tells you how – as well as other interesting facts about the Kingsnake, an Animal Ambassador at Daggerwing Nature Center.
As Daggerwing Nature Center Naturalist Lila Varel shows us, Mimosa is a very unique plant that goes by a few different names! Watch this video to learn about this native plant, including ways you can easily grow it.
The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department (PBC Parks) participated in the national Parks for Pollinators campaign, which was aimed at raising public awareness of the importance of pollinators and positioning parks as national leaders in advancing pollinator health. Organized by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, the Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz event was held during the month of September.
PBC Parks created a project – named Parks for Pollinators 2020: Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation – in the iNaturalist app, which was shared with NRPA and added to the national campaign. Participants used the iNaturalist app and website to record and identify observations of various plant and animal pollinators found in parks, natural areas, backyards, and other locations throughout the county.
The PBC Parks project recorded about 1,000 observations, more than 370 species, more than 100 identifiers, and nearly 150 observers on the iNaturalist app.
“Participating in the NRPA Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz was a really fun way to engage our community to support pollinators and to draw attention to the importance of our park system’s wildlife habitat,” said Jennifer Cirillo, PBC Parks’ Assistant Director.
Parks play a key role in protecting and preserving pollinators and their habitats, and BioBlitz events are designed to create a literal snapshot of plants, insects and animals to see what wildlife is present in local parks. The activity not only let participants safely explore their local parks and learn more about the species through the iNaturalist mobile app, the information gathered also provided specific data on the species located in the parks — which can help park and recreation professionals manage those spaces for biological diversity and build ecological resilience.
In addition to featuring the project and link on the PBC Parks website, additional BioBlitz activities were included, in order to provide the community with more ways to understand the importance of pollinators and their impact on the environment.
The PBC Parks project can be found here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/parks-for-pollinators-2020-palm-beach-county-parks-and-recreation
Do you know the differences between Native and Non-Native Apple Snails? Daggerwing Nature Center Manager, Sean Mallee tells you how to spot the differences between the two, as well as the benefits of Native Florida Apple Snails on the Florida ecosystem!
$15 Million in Infrastructure Surtax funding was allocated over a seven-year period towards the conversion of sports field lighting from traditional metal halide bulbs to LEDs at 45 facilities managed by Palm Beach County.
LED lighting is more energy efficient, requires less maintenance and lasts longer than standard bulb lighting. The Musco LED fixtures utilized by the County provide a focused beam on the playing surface that, through additional shielding, eliminates much of the spillover light that can negatively impact surrounding homes and businesses. LED lights also provide the additional benefit of being activated immediately, eliminating the long warm-up time currently needed for traditional bulb lighting.
Do you know how to spot the difference between native and non-native Firebush plants? Daggerwing Nature Center Manager, Sean Mallee shows you how – and takes you through some other cool facts about this “fiery” plant.