February 18, 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. The posts have become a much-anticipated feature, boosting Facebook numbers to nearly 16,000 followers. 
Whether you live on Sanibel Island or in a completely different environment in faraway places like  North Dakota or New Mexico, we want to see what you're seeing in your habitat while you are staying safe at home. 

Thank you to Deb and Jim Kiekover for sharing this image of a Barred Owl from their backyard in Holland, Michigan.

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.
Donate to help support staff and intern positions at the Refuge.
TOMORROW, February 19: 
Bald Eagle Lecture

Pulitzer-winning author Jack E. Davis; credit Lynn Weir.
Following his Pulitzer-winning book about the Gulf of Mexico, Jack E. Davis focuses on bald eagles in a historical context. The popular author and lecturer will speak about "The Bald Eagle: Symbol and Species in American History" at a "Ding" Darling
lecture at The Community House at 2173 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island starting at 10 a.m. on Friday, February 19.

Davis will be signing copies of his latest, The Wilder Heart of Florida, following the lecture.
Historian Davis will share knowledge and images from his forthcoming Bird of Paradox: How the Bald Eagle Saved the Soul of America. His new The Wilder Heart of Florida: More Writers Inspired by Florida Nature, which he edited and contributed to, has just released. It includes READ MORE.

Thanks to OUR sponsor, Southwest Florida Eagle Cam for supporting this lecture.

Missed lecture? Head to our web page 
the Tuesday following each lecture for the link to a recorded video.
Lecture Series Protocols
The upcoming season's "Ding" Darling Lecture Series evolves with the 
times and persisting distance protocols by moving to a larger venue. Socially distanced seating for the free lectures is limited and available on a first-come basis. Staff will be distributing a limited number of entry wristbands to attendees beginning at 9 a.m. that day, after taking touch-free temperature readings. DDWS asks guests to avoid lining up before 8:45 a.m. Guests must be wearing wristbands and facemasks to enter the lecture room. Early arrivals may save their seat and one other with personal items. Saved seats must be filled by 9:45. 
Former intern Avery Renshaw has advanced to Biological Technician.
New Biology Position Filled

    Avery Renshaw, who worked at "Ding" Darling from April 2019 to December 2020 as a Biology Intern, fills the newly created Refuge position of Biological Technician. As an intern, Avery assisted Senior Refuge Biologist Jeremy Conrad with his mangrove fertilization doctorate project, which included field data collection and sample processing.
     "In her new position, she will be working with me on all things biological related," said Jeremy. "This includes research, surveys, restoration, water quality, and planning." Hers is a four-year term position. Due to lack of hiring funds in the Refuge budget, the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society is partially supporting Avery's first-year salary.
      "Thank you to 'Ding' Darling Wildlife Society for supporting my first year in this exciting new position," she said. "They are helping to make it possible for me to pursue my dream career!"
      Originally from Mount Airy, Maryland,  Avery previously interned with Mote Marine Lab's Coral Reef Ecological Processes Program in the Florida Keys. She graduated in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in environmental science and studies with a biology concentration from Towson University in Towson, Maryland.
      "Through my internship, Sanibel Island and its natural ecosystems have become important and significant places to me, so when this job opportunity arose, I had to apply," said Avery. "I wanted to continue contributing to the Refuge's mission to protect and preserve the island's wildlife and natural habitats. I'm especially looking forward to important restoration efforts at newly acquired refuge habitat."
Read Avery's thank you letter to DDWS.

Remember, profits from all Nature Store sales go directly to the Refuge for educational programs, wildlife research, and overall conservation efforts.

Philanthropic support in the form of sponsorships makes a big difference in what we can raise to support conservation education efforts, particularly during this time of Covid-19 and virtual events.  Thanks to those sponsors who are already supporting our fundraising event:

Call of the Wild Sponsors
 Champion Sponsors

Guardian Sponsor

Protector Sponsors

Defender Sponsors
WoW School Debut Huge Success
Bilingual Education Intern Alfredo Carbajal works with students at one of WoW's outdoor stations.
Our new Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) urban mobile classroom made its first school visit last week at Tice Elementary School. Everyone, from the students to the Refuge Education Team to the school vice principal, was wowed by the experience.

Read a letter from Katie Reimenschneider, Tice Assistant Principal.

From the students:

"I don't ever want to leave."

"When I grow up, I want to do what you do."

"I promise to throw trash in the garbage and not in the oceans."

"This is so much fun!" 
From Urban Education Leader Melissa Maher: "All of the smiles have been priceless from these kids!"
Starting this week, WoW is spending two weeks at Lehigh Elementary. Stay tuned for pictures and reactions from that visit.

Donate to support WoW's mission to reach schools, libraries, community centers, and events in under-represented neighborhoods to instill interest in the Refuge and a connection to nature. 
Refuge Continues Free Seasonal Tours

Register now for a free guided tour of Indigo Trail on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Refuge has received the greenlight on offering 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, February 18, at 2 p.m.: Bailey Tract Tour
  • Saturday, February 20, at 2 p.m.: Indigo Trail Walk
  • Sunday, February 21, at 9:30 a.m.: Beach Walk
  • SOLD OUT! Monday, February 22, at 9:30 a.m.: Biking the Refuge Tour
  • Tuesday, February 23, Birding the Refuge Tour, 8:30 a.m.
 Tour Guidelines: 
  • Masks and social-distancing adherence are mandatory for all tours.
  • Tours are led outside, but since 6 feet cannot be maintained while tour is conducted, masks are required.
  • Tours will not be conducted if guidelines are not met by all participants.
  • Tour guide has the right to terminate tour if deemed unsafe.
  • Call for more information: 239-472-1100 ext. 237?
 Check out our current Free Tours Flyer. 
Lindsey Voegele is a team administrative employee based at "Ding."
Welcome New Admin Hire

Lindsey Voegele, who is currently working remotely for the Refuge from Oregon, will be arriving in March to make "Ding" Darling her home base for working as administrative payroll and travel technician for Crystal River NWR, Florida Keys NWR Complex, and Southwest Florida NWR Complex, which includes "Ding" Darling, Florida Panther, and Ten Thousand Islands refuges.
She comes to "Ding" Darling from the Bureau of Land Management in Coos Bay, Oregon, where she worked as an administrative assistant. Lindsey graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2010 and has worked for other land management agencies including the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. 
"I have lived in the Fort Myers area previously, and I am excited to enjoy sunshine, beaches, and the beautiful Florida coast once again," said Lindsey. "I am looking forward to learning more about the Refuge. It is always fun to discover the behind-the-scenes activities each refuge is working on." 
March 5 Art Journal Walks Canceled

The March 5 Artist in Residence Journal Walks have been canceled for the artist to help our with a different "Ding" Darling project.  (Thank you,
Rachel's art walks end at the Wildlife Education Boardwalk, a short hike down Indigo Trail.

The next walks are scheduled for Friday, April 2. To ensure social distancing, each timeslot is limited to 10 participants, so make your free reservation 
 for 10 a.m., 11 a.m., or noon. The walks include a free journal and pencil to start your nature sketching off. Facemasks are required.
'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. 
Image courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Location3,699 acres; northeastern New Mexico.  

TotemicFaunaGrasshopper Sparrow, Long-billed Curlew, Prairie Dog.

Visitor's Tip: The 10-mile auto tour loop has several pullouts for visitors to hike, observe, and learn about the refuge.
 Long-billed curlew; image courtesy of Leann Williams
Grasshopper Sparrow; image courtesy of Robert Shantz
Family of Prairie Dogs; image courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Balloons: Deflating News

In a recent study on seabird mortality, Scientific Reports found: "There is a 20.4% chance of lifetime mortality from ingesting a single
 debris item, rising to 100% after consuming 93 items. Obstruction ofthe gastro-intestinal tract is the leading cause of death. Overall, balloons are the highest-risk debris item; 32 times more likely to result in death than ingesting hard plastic." 
As you celebrate Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day, birthdays, and other occasions, consider alternate, earth friendly items such as ribbon dancers, kites, reusable, pinwheels, flags, crepe paper, Mexican papel picados, or hanging tissue paper pompoms.
2021 Wish List

From gas cards for the Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) to educational taxidermy, our 2021 Wish List is full of good ideas for this year's giving.

The Education Team is wishing for donations for field trips for under-represented minority communities this summer.

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by Rebecca Clemens
Gopher Tortoises have been spotted along Wildlife Drive. 

The Gopher Tortoise actually helps the plants it eats by spreading their seeds through droppings. Gopher Tortoises get plenty of water from the plants they eat, so they rarely need to seek out separate water sources.

To see more wildlife photos click on our social media links:
Like us on Facebook View on Instagram View our videos on YouTube
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.
Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding - March 31, 2021

Lecture SeriesThrough March 19, 2021

Virtual Film Series - Through April 12, 2021   

Earth Day at the Refuge - April 22, 2021

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

Niki Butcher Photographic Exhibition - Mid-November - December 2021
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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