18 February 2011

Okeeheelee Nature Center Day

Okeeheelee Nature Center is a great place to visit in Palm Beach County. My dear friend Mo Kieffer works there as a naturalist. Since Okeeheelee is part of the Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation Department, I have the privelege of helping out from time to time. On this particular trip I brought my Americorps student, Cathy, to observe a typcial day at their center.

First we watched Mo teach a story time lesson to her 3-5 year olds. Dip netting with little ones is a brave feat but Mo was excellent. The kids even found a few nice finds including a dragonfly nymph or two and this large apple snail pictured above.

One of the biggest differences between our two nature centers other than the different habitats is that Okeeheelee has over 16 birds of prey. We checked the inventory of chicks and mice before heading out to the deer and bird enclosures.

Okeeheelee's newest member of the team is the hand-fed deer pictured here. Her name is Dodo and she's quite the charmer. I've never met a deer that behaves like a dog until now.

The variety of birds at Okeeheelee is amazing. They have a Peregrine, a Merlin, a Turkey Vulture, a Barred Owl, Barn Owl, 2 Great Horned-Owls, 2 Eastern Screech-Owls, 2 American Kestrals, a Cooper's Hawk, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, a Red-shouldered Hawk, and a Broad-winged Hawk.

I was happily surprised that Mo let me even hold the Barred Owl. She is so much heavier than our little Oliver, the Eastern Screech-Owl.

If you're in the Palm Beach area of Florida I would definitely fit in a trip to Okeeheelee. You never know which one of their birds you may meet on display at the nature center. And for those not in the know, all three County nature centers in Palm Beach County are free to the general public.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Barred Owls are my favorite! The one you're holding is a beauty. Sounds like you had a great day out at a wonderful nature center.