April 1, 2021
In This Issue
The DDWS staff has been busy bringing the healing sunshine and beauty of the Refuge to the public through 30-second social media videos. Follow on Facebook to see our #DailyDoseofDing, brief virtual visits to the Refuge for those who can't make it. Since pandemic lockdown, the posts have become a much-anticipated feature, boosting Facebook numbers to nearly 17,000 followers. 
Whether you live on Sanibel Island or in a completely different environment in faraway places like North Dakota or Ontario, we want to see what you're seeing in your habitat while you are staying safe at home.

Thank you to Gordon Ultsch, Ph.D., for sharing these photos of a Yellow-crowned Night Heron taken at the Refuge and a Wood Stork in Cape Coral, Florida.

Thank you to John Heywood from Worthington, Ohio, for sharing these images of a Baltimore Oriole.

Please email your nature photos so we can share them in "Ding" on the Wing and by social media. Include details about the photographer and where the photo was taken.

Click the logos above to learn how to support conservation at the Refuge in your estate plans or how to become an OMG member.
Anhinga with chicks. Photo by David Jeffrey
Jim Sprankle Nature Trail

Jim expressed heartfelt gratitude for the gesture and the Refuge.
Jim Sprankle has made his mark on Sanibel Island and beyond in ways uncountable. His generosity for creating stunning wildlife sculptures has benefited organizations from FISH and SCCF to SanCap Cares and Alliance for the Arts.
He has indicated often that the Refuge, however, is the cause closest to his heart, and has donated sculptures through the years valued at more than $2 million to support the Refuge.
Longtime islanders and friends of Jim, Donna and John Schubert decided it was time the Refuge and island showed proper gratitude for all that "Feather Jim" has done to support island charities. They made it possible to name a forthcoming trail at the Refuge's newest Lee Anne Tauck Conservation Tract in his honor, the Jim Sprankle Nature Trail. On March 25, the Schuberts, with READ MORE

Patty and Jim Sprankle, Donna and John Schubert, and Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland were on hand to unveil the trail's sign.
TOMORROW, April 2: Artist in Residence Journal Walks

Fort Myers artist Rachel Pierce (front) leads the Journal Art Walks to the Wildlife Education Boardwalk.
The season's final Artist-in-Residence Journal Walks with Rachel Pierce happen Friday, April 2, at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and noon. To ensure social distancing, the tours are limited to 10 participants, so make your free reservation now. The walks include a free journal and pencil to get your nature-sketching started. Facemasks are required.
Rachel's Pop-Up Plein-Air Demos along Wildlife Drive continue through April on the following dates: April 1, 6, 15, and 20. Watch the Artist-in-Residence web page for news of other upcoming events and activities with Rachel.
Donate to support free educational programs such as this at the Refuge.
April 12: Just Eat It Film Showing

How long can two people live on food destined for the trash bin? The documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story explores the implications of and solutions to expiration dates, perfect produce obsessions, portion size, and world hunger.
The ninth annual "Ding" Darling Film Series adapts to distancing and pandemic safety protocols with virtual airings and follow-up discussions via Zoom. It wraps up on Monday, April 12, with a 74-minute documentary that follows READ MORE

free reservations to view the film and participate in the post-discussion.
Florida Junior Duck Stamp Judging

Justine Smith, 17, from Land O' Lakes, Florida, took Best of Show for the state. A student at Land O_ Lakes High School, she has been competing in the JDS competition for six years and previously placed first in her age category.
Every year, the Junior Duck Stamp Contest judging for Florida takes place at "Ding" Darling. The program was born here, thanks to the creativity of art teacher Jaye Boswell at the elementary school next door, now known as The Sanibel School. Refuge staff runs the state's contest, which this year had 607 entries from nine schools and homeschool students. The Best-of-Show entry from Florida goes on to compete at the federal level next month.   
"We always hope our Florida best-of-show will win at the federal level," said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland, who has been involved for nearly 20 years. "Justine's beautiful Wood Duck portrait just might do it!"

Thanks to our judges: Jim Sprankle, Sanibel artist; Veronica Runge, city of Sanibel; Susie Hassett, Lee County Schools; Kevin Godsea, "Ding" Darling Refuge Manager; and Mark Danaher, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist at Florida Panther NWR.

Remember, profits from all Nature Store sales go directly to the Refuge for educational programs,
wildlife research, and overall conservation efforts.
April 22: Earth Day at the Refuge

The Refuge Education Team will debut a new Junior Ranger activity booklet that day for families to complete and receive a gift.
Similar to how the Refuge has been operating its free seasonal tours, Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, will be carefully curated for participant safety. Guides will be leading five free tours that day, limited, as have been all our seasonal tours, to 10 participants each, plus two painting sessions with Artist-in-Residence Rachel Pierce and other on-your-own activities. Admission to Wildlife Drive is free to all hikers and cyclists that day. See the schedule below and register for tours in advance, free-of-charge.

All tours are limited to 10 visitors.
7 a.m.-7 p.m. - Free admission to Wildlife Drive for cyclists and hikers
8 a.m. - Mindfulness Walk at the Bailey Tract
8:30 a.m. - Birding the Refuge
9:30 a.m. - Biking the Refuge
10 a.m. - Paint a Roseate Spoonbill with Artist in Residence Rachel Pierce
1 p.m. - Junior Ranger Walk
2 p.m. - Paint a Roseate Spoonbill with Artist in Residence Rachel Pierce
2 p.m. - Bailey Tract Walk
Ongoing outdoors - New Junior Ranger Booklet Debut: Complete it that day and receive a gift.
Ongoing outdoors - Pick up a compostable bag to fill with trash and return for a commemorative postcard.
See our flyer for more information.
Drive-through Volunteer Appreciation

"Ding" Darling Wildlife Society's Birgie Miller and April Boehnen (decked out in an "all puffed up for volunteers" costume), handed out facemasks specially made for the volunteers.
Once again, this year, COVID-19 precautions meant a new way of appreciating volunteers for "Ding" Darling. Traditionally, staff presents awards at a luncheon gathering hosted by the Refuge and DDWS. Last year they made one-on-one presentations.
"This year, Visitor Services Ranger Katy Hosokawa came up with a very creative solution," said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland. "We hosted a drive-through appreciation event on a Friday, when Wildlife Drive is closed to the public. We invited the volunteers to drive by 10 stations where

Refuge Manager Kevin Godsea presents volunteer Jake Jacobson with his 20-year award.

Ranger Katy Hosokawa, who organized the event, holds treats she handed out to volunteers at one station.
Jeopar-Ding Went Wild!
This year, in the spirit of creativity and accessibility, DDWS reinvented the ninth annual Go Wild for "Ding" fundraiser in an original virtual format for Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding on Wednesday, March 31.

You missed the premiere of Jeopar-Ding? No worries, you can still buy a ticket and watch the entertaining quiz show with answers and questions geared toward Sanibel Island and the Refuge. Look for information in next week's "Ding" on the Wing.

Thanks to the sponsors who made our fundraising event such a success.

Call of the Wild Sponsors

 Champion Sponsors

Guardian Sponsors

Protector Sponsors

Defender Sponsors
Free Refuge Seasonal Tours

The Refuge continues through April 11 to offer socially distanced tours of 10 people or less. There's no set schedule, so monitor the Eventbrite page to see what staff and volunteers are currently offering and to sign up for tours. Please bring your own binoculars and scopes.
Upcoming Tours:
  • Today, April 1, at 2 p.m.: Bailey Tract Tour
  • Friday, April 2, at 9 a.m.: Indigo Trail Walk 
  • Friday, April 2, at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and noon: Journal Art Walk
  • Saturday, April 3, at 9 a.m.: Guided Mindfulness Walk at Bailey Tract
  • Sunday, April 4, at 9:30 a.m.: Beach Walk
  • Monday, April 5, at 9:30 a.m.: Biking the Refuge Tour
  • Tuesday, April 6, at 8:30 a.m.: Birding the Refuge Tour
  • Wednesday, April 7, at 11 a.m.: Common Birds of the Refuge Walk
  • Wednesday, April 7, at 2 p.m.: Endangered Species Tour
  •  Thursday, April 8, at 2 p.m.: Bailey Tract Tour
 Intern Jessica Barry leads Mindfulness Walks on Saturdays at Bailey Tract.
Check out our current Free Tours Flyer.
Food Waste

Did you know that roughly one-third of the food produced worldwide for human consumption gets wasted or lost every year? That adds up to approximately 1.3 billion tons (Source). As we wrap up our film series this month with Just Eat It, we urge you to watch and learn how to lessen the food in your home that ends up in the trash.
In the face of dwindling food supplies and increasing worldwide hunger, it is important to turn the tables on food waste. Start by shopping wisely, storing food properly, and learning how to preserve fresh produce, meat, and seafood. Visit healthline.com for more tips.

'America's Best-Kept Secret'
In each issue of "Ding" on the Wing, we showcase one of the more than 560 refuges across the U.S.A. that is open to the public. 

Images courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Location: 12,150 acres; Maybell, Colorado
Totemic fauna: Elk, Mule Deer, Pronghorn
Visitor tip: Camping is free but limited at two primitive campgrounds.

Mule Deer; image courtesy of Rachel Portwood

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by Al Hoffacker
Cattle Egrets have recently been spotted along Wildlife Drive. They tend to follow large animals or machines and then eat invertebrates stirred up from the ground. Cattle Egrets are also known to fly long distances towards smoke to catch insects fleeing a fire.

To see more wildlife photos, click on our social media links:
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If you have taken any beautiful, interesting, or just plain goofy photos at the Refuge, send them to Development Officer Sierra Hoisington for a chance to be featured in upcoming newsletters.
Monitor our COVID-19 page for news of event cancellations or reschedules.

Free Refuge ToursThrough April 11, 2021 

Virtual Film Series
 - Through April 12, 2021  

Artist-in-Residence Plein-Air Demos - Through April 20, 2021

Earth Day at the Refuge - April 22, 2021

Artist-in-Residence Exhibition - October 1 - November 10, 2021

Niki Butcher Photographic Exhibition - November 15 - December 31, 2021. Sponsored by Wayne & Linda Boyd.
These are just snapshots of some of the things taking place at your Wildlife Refuge. Please check our website to learn more!

Birgit Miller, Executive Director

"Ding" On The Wing composed by Chelle Koster Walton.  Designed by interns Julie D'Agostino and Hollis Hatfield.

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