Updated: Sep 3, 2020
Want to get the family outdoors more this year? Would you like for your children to observe wildlife in their natural habitat without having to leave town? For the 80% of us that live in metropolitan areas, this undertaking may look a lot different from those who live in rural countrysides that have not yet been tainted by developers looking to erect yet another shopping mall. It's my guess that your local parks and green spaces will be your first place to check. A quick search on the web will easily point you in the direction of upcoming events and classes. But just like people, every park is different. There are a few key things to look for when chasing wildlife in a concrete jungle. We like using the criteria below to gauge what type of experience we will have when we set out on adventures. Though this doesn't mean you won't find interesting things to observe at parks that don't have these, it definitely increases your chances!
Habitat Diversity A habitat is the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or another organism. In South Florida we have many! These habitats are homes to many different types of animal groups.
Coastal Habitats: From sandy to swampy, Florida has a diverse array of coastal habitats along its extremely varied shorelines.
Forests: Forests come in many different forms in Florida, ranging from broad and open to densely packed with vegetation.
Prairies: Florida’s prairies come in two flavors: dry and wet. Prairies are treeless, open grasslands, many of which are seasonally inundated with water.
Scrubs: Florida’s desert, the scrub, forms on well-drained, loose “sugar sand” deposited along ancient shorelines, hosting Florida’s oldest plant communities.
Birds are a group of animals that can be found in any of these habitats. Why mention birds? Many travel great distances to go where there is food and shelter. One of the most useful things that birds can indicate is overall habitat quality. When birds are dependent on the habitat functioning in specific ways, the population trends of birds can tell us about how well the ecosystem functions. So in addition to having the pleasure of observing some of the most beautiful creatures, you'll be able to observe their, homes, food, friends and foe. Ready to pick up bird watching? Canopy Got trees? Well some of our favorite parks have the most beautiful high and full mature tree crowns- which makes up the canopy. These serve as shade for us and home to many birds and small mammals. Learning Experience When you're able to put a name with a bug you've never seen or a flower you always pass but never knew, it connects you to the world around you. Yes, field guides are great, but nature centers and signs found throughout a trail that shares history and information is an exciting find to connect you even more. Trails Keep the party going and walk on! A nice clear trail whether asphalt, mulch or dirt that allows for the exploration to continue with your little ones and the opportunity to make more discoveries. Many parks now have multiple types of trails available to choose from to see that all are ale to have access and enjoy the park in a way that is most comfortable for them. Head outside, stay on the lookout, your best discovery may be right around the corner. Interested in including learning activities to enrich your experience? Check out our Nature Studies here! Sources: Florida Hikes: https://floridahikes.com/florida-habitats https://www.environmentalscience.org/birds-environmental-indicators