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January 6, 2022

Wellness Week: Mind. Body. Heart.

As part of its 40th anniversary celebration this year and to connect individuals with the natural world, the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society has announced Wellness Week: Mind. Body. Heart. It takes place February 7-12 in partnership with the Refuge, Tarpon Bay Explorers, and the Sanibel Rec Center’s Heart Healthy Month.


Highlights of the week will include a ribbon cutting for the new self-guided Mindfulness Trail at the Bailey Tract with the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, a ranger-led bike tour of Wildlife Drive, sunrise yoga at the beach, guest expert speakers on healing through nature READ MORE

See Wellness Week Flyer.

WoW Surpasses 10,000 Visitors

On December 30, the last day the WoW mobile nature experience welcomed holiday visitors at the Refuge, it topped its goal of reaching 10,000 visitors in its first year of operation. Congratulations to the WoW Education Team! They reached a total of 10,030 individuals from January 19 through December 30. The team presented the 10,000th visitor with special gifts. That just happened to be a celebrity whom The Wolf of Wall Street fans are familiar with. Actor Bo Dietl and singer Margo Urban (from the 80s Cover Girl band), were thrilled with their visit, WoW, and the Refuge.

Free Season Refuge Programs

Following the new protocol for free Winter Refuge Programs, staff and volunteers will be offering a revolving schedule of programs through April 16. The schedule changes weekly according to staffing availability. All programs take place outdoors with a limit of 10 participants. Please wear a mask when unable to maintain a safe distance of six feet from one another.


On the Refuge Eventbrite Page, you will find details of the week’s tours so you can pre-register. (Please cancel your reservation if you are unable to make it.) Upcoming programs:


  • TODAY, January 6: Bailey Tract Tour, 8:30 a.m.
  • TODAY, January 6, Gators & Crocs Program, 1:30 p.m.
  • Friday, January 7: Indigo Trail Tour, 9:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, January 8: Mindfulness Walk, 8:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, January 8: Beach Exploration, 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, January 8: Birds of the Refuge Program, 1:30 p.m.
Learn More About Sponsoring Go Wild for "Ding"
Learn More About Sponsoring Project Refuge

Rheannon Hill from Lehigh Senior High won first place in the 2021 contest with her entry “Flowers.”

"Ding Darling Theodore Cross High School Photo Contest

The deadline for the ninth annual “Ding” Darling-Theodore Cross High School Photography Contest is February 15. It invites high school students in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades, and Hendry counties to compete for prizes that include a Canon digital SLR camera package, special photography opportunities to be announced, and copies of Waterbirds: Portraits and Anecdotes from Birding Adventures by contest namesake, the late Theodore Cross.

Cross, who lived part-time on Sanibel Island, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; advised the READ MORE

Memorial & Honor Gifts 

Donors made these gifts to DDWS in honor and memory of friends and families during December 2021. Thank you to everyone who supported the Refuge in this thoughtful and meaningful way. Make a memorial or honor donation here.


New! Refuge Display at the Chamber

Stop in at the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center to admire our new dynamic display. The top half of the 11” x 20” animated screen promotes, our TikTok social media, and our America’s Best Restroom. Stunning Refuge video loops below alongside tips on great Refuge experiences. The Sanibel-Captiva Chamber Center welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year looking for suggestions and guidance for exploring the islands.

Refuge Spotlight - 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.

Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge

Location: 7,055 acres; Dardanelle, Arkansas

Totemic fauna: Painted Bunting, Monarch Butterfly, Wild Turkey

Visitor tips: Points of interest include an auto tour, two hiking trails, numerous walk-in access trails, an observation tower, and informational kiosks and panels.

Image courtesy of Steve Twaddle



Reusable Face Masks

As COVID-19 numbers again surge with the omicron variant and holiday travel and congregating, make sure your masking-up is sustainable. Like many disposable products, single-use face masks end up on beaches, in waterways, and at landfills as unsightly and contaminated trash. If your job does not require single-use masks, invest in cotton cloth ones you can launder and reuse. Our online store has a wide selection of face coverings in fashionable designs, including our popular and Sanibel-appropriate seashell masks embroidered with the Refuge's name.

Common Gallinule - Sylvia Guarino.jpg

Photo by Sylvia Guarino

Wildlife Sightings & Tides

Visitors have recently spotted Common Gallinules at the Refuge. The Common Gallinule has long toes that make it possible to walk on soft mud and floating vegetation. The toes have no lobes or webbing to help with swimming, but the gallinule is a good swimmer r.

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

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.

Upcoming Events

Artist-in-Residence Exhibition – Through February 28, 2022

Free Refuge Programs – Through April 16, 2022

2022 Lecture Series – February 4-March 25, 2022

2022 Film Series on Zoom – Dates TBD

Wellness Week: Mind. Body. Heart. - February 7-12, 2022

Go Wild for “Ding” – Year of the Anhinga, Soar for 40 More – February 9, 2022

WoW in Edison Festival of Light Parade – February 19, 2022

Walk for ‘Ding’ Challenge – March 1-April 10, 2022

Lori Lawrence Art Exhibition – March 1 – April 30, 2022

Project Refuge: A Couture Fashion Show Using Trash - March 31, 2022

April No-Foolin’ Volunteer Appreciation Drive-Through - April 1, 2022

“Ding” Darling Day Conservation Carnival @ Lakes Park – April 24, 2022

10th Annual “Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tournament – May 13, 2022

Niki Butcher Art Exhibition - November 15-December 31, 2022

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 Christina Hester & Hayley Caylor.

Darling Dose of "Ding"

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