Tag Archives: photography

Photographers get Unique Opportunity to Photograph Birds of Prey

  • Owl
  • Hawk
  • Owl
  • Hawk
  • Kestrel
  • crowd

Raptor Day for Photographers was held at Okeeheelee Nature Center (ONC) on January 18, 2020. Sponsored by Friends of Okeeheelee Nature Center, this annual event provided 50 photographers with an opportunity to take close-up portraits of birds of prey. This year, ONC partnered with the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center (TCWC) to ensure a diversity of species for the participants to photograph. The birds displayed included two species of hawk, three species of owl, a kestrel, and a crested caracara. The birds are placed on outdoor perches so the photographers can capture images of the animals in natural light and in front of wooded backgrounds.

All of the raptors live at educational facilities under human care because they have an injury that prevents them from returning to the wild. Although many of the birds have visible imperfections, the talented photographers were able to bring out their best features and highlight their natural beauty.

ONC staff and volunteers were present throughout the event to provide information about the birds and answer questions. Participants were also given a brochure that included facts about the raptors and explained a little about each bird’s history.

Feedback from the participants was tremendously positive. Irwin Goldzweig wrote to share some of his beautiful photos and say, “Thanks to you, Heather, and your staff and volunteers. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed Raptor Day. It was professionally organized and implemented which made it totally enjoyable for us as visitors. The staff and volunteers were wonderful, informative, and very helpful. We look forward to the next one.”

Friends of Okeeheelee Nature Center sold out the event within two weeks, raising over $1,200. All proceeds benefit the programs, exhibits and animals at Okeeheelee Nature Center.

PBC Parks Hosts Beach Cleanup on National Skip the Straw Day

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Boynton Beach residents Jessica and Sandy Rowley are a mother-daughter duo, who, for the past 25 years, have made a habit out of cleaning up parks and natural areas around the area to ensure a cleaner, safer community. So naturally, when they heard about Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation’s Skip the Straw Day Beach Cleanup on the morning news, they immediately wanted to be a part of the effort.

“Every little bit helps, we come here all the time, might as well keep it clean,” said Jessica.

On the morning of February 22, roughly a dozen volunteers made their way to Ocean Inlet Park to help rid the popular beach of litter. It was held on National Skip the Straw Day, in an effort to bring attention to the issue of non-degradable litter often found on Palm Beach County beaches. The unofficial holiday encourages people to recognize the harmful effects of non-degradable plastic commonly known to contaminate the ocean and harm marine life.

Volunteers liked the Rowleys filled a 33-gallon trash bag with debris from the beach park. Every volunteer received a bag containing a t-shirt, water, snacks & environmental literature, and pickers, gloves and garbage bags were supplied.

For the mother-daughter team, the cleanup was important because it helps strengthen their appreciation for nature. “We love getting out in nature and enjoying everything and seeing all the animals… and it’s sad to see garbage everywhere,” said Jessica.

For more information about volunteering for the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, visit pbcparks.com.

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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