March 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. 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 South Carolina or New York, we want to see what you're seeing in your habitat while you are staying safe at home. 

Thank you to Sharon for sharing these images of a Great Blue Heron from Rehoboth, DE.

Thank you to Gary Biltgen for sharing these images of a Bald Eagle and an Alligator in Sanibel, FL.

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.
Main Bailey Tract Parking Lot Paving

Those wishing to hike or bike Bailey Tract trails must temporarily enter off of Island Inn Road.
Through April 2, the main Bailey Tract parking lot off of Tarpon Bay Road will be closed to all access, including vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians. Parking is still available for visitors at Smith Pond, off of Island Inn Road.

TOMORROW, March 19: 
Feather Thief Author Lecture

Pre-signed copies of Feather Thief will be available for purchase that day or following the lecture at Nature Store venues and online.
Widely acclaimed as one of the top nonfiction thrillers of its time, Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century centers on the outrageous heist of rare bird skins from England's Tring Museum in 2009. Investigative journalist Kirk Wallace Johnson tells the tale with the intrigue of crime fiction. He will speak about his long-researched book at a special "Ding" Darling lecture on Friday, March 19, at 10 a.m. in the Community House at 2173 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island. The lecture wraps up this season's "Ding" Darling Lecture Series Johnson is also the author of READ MORE
Thanks to the sponsors of the upcoming lecture:
Missed a 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. 
High School Photo Contest Winners

Judges David Jeffrey, Jennifer Littman, and Katy Hosokawa
Following a contest judging on February 25, DDWS announced winners and finalists in the eighth annual "Ding" Darling-Theodore Cross High School Photography Contest. Due to COVID, DDWS will not be holding an award ceremony this year.

Rheannon Hill's "Flowers" won first place.
First place went to an image titled "Flowers" by Rheannon Hill from Lehigh Senior High. "This photo is stunningly beautiful," said judge David Jeffrey. "It's subtle, the depth of field is great, and the composition is really well done. The lighting is also very subtle, yet the colors are READ MORE
Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding Tickets
Selling Fast

This year, in the spirit of creativity and accessibility, DDWS is reinventing the ninth annual Go Wild for "Ding" fundraiser in an original virtual format. Tickets are still available for Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at 6 p.m.  If you can't watch the private, ticketed premier at that time, ticket holders will be able to watch beyond that time.  Tickets begin at $25 and go up to $750 all to support conservation education.  
A playful rendition of everyone's favorite longtime TV game show, classic Jeopardy, Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding brings hostess and 
Host and contestants with DDWS Development Officers Sierra Hoisington and April Boehnen. Kudos to April for creating a fun, original event.
Rachel Pierce to the screen with three local celebrities to compete in categories about READ MORE

Masks, especially our logo masks, continue to be consistent sellers for us at all three locations so we are doing a little spring mask promotion that will be valid in both stores and online from March 18 - 24. All face coverings, including our "Ding" embroidered masks, sun scarves and kids face masks will be buy one, get the second 50% off with promo code SPRINGDING. Remember, profits from all Nature Store sales go directly to the Refuge for educational programs, wildlife research, and overall conservation efforts.
'Ding' Receives Permanently Endowed Memorial Fund

The Frank and Joanne Hicks Memorial Fund is the family's way of saying thanks to the Refuge staff and volunteers for the years of enjoyment they have experienced. Frank and Joanne Hicks grew up loving nature and birds around the lakes in Ontario, Canada. They raised their three children to appreciate wildlife from their home in the Finger Lakes region of western New York State.

Joanne volunteered at the nearby Cummings Nature Center, where she taught classes on birds and nature for the children who would visit, and later at the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center once the couple moved to Punta Gorda, Florida.
The Hicks loved "Ding" Darling and often brought their grandchildren to the Refuge. Even after Joanne passed away in 1999, Frank continued to make the trip from Shell Point Retirement Community to the Refuge with his family. He last visited in July 2018 at age 95. READ MORE 

Donors can establish named, permanently endowed funds for $10,000 or more and work with staff to restrict them to their areas of interest. Income from the endowments can fund individual projects or ongoing education, intern, programming, research, or other specific needs. For more information, contact Lynnae Messina at 239-472-1100 ext. 233 or Birgie Miller at 239.292.0566.
Swallow-tailed Kite Refuge Surveys
Image courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Last week, Refuge biology staff assisted SCCF, the City of Sanibel, and the Avian Research and Conservation Institute in Gainesville with Swallow-tailed Kite surveys at the Refuge's latest acquisition - the 68-acre Lee Anne Tauck Conservation Tract. "We did not find any nests, but did observe three kites in the area," reports Senior Refuge Biologist Jeremy Conrad.
April 22: Earth Day at the Refuge

Admission to Wildlife Drive is free to all cyclists and hikers on Earth Day.
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
8:30 a.m. - Birding the Refuge Tour
9:30 a.m. - Biking the Refuge Tour
2 p.m. - Paint a Roseate Spoonbill with Artist in Residence Rachel Pierce
11 a.m. - Mindfulness Walk at the Bailey Tract
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.
'Ding' Educators Reach State- and Nation-wide
Toni Westland has been educating kids and adults about the Refuge for nearly 20 years.

Supervisory Refuge Ranger and Conservation Educator Toni Westland has been broadcasting Refuge lessons on flora and fauna as far flung as Texas and Wisconsin. Now, she and her team are joining efforts in the state of Florida as part of the Scientists in Every School program. The program is a partnership with the University of Florida and Florida Museum in Gainesville. In a couple of weeks, she teaches her first class - third-graders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Elementary in Miami-Dade. 
Free Refuge Seasonal Tours

The Refuge continues 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 off
ering and to sign up for tours. Please bring your own binoculars and scopes.
Upcoming Tours:
  • Today, March 18 at 1:30 p.m.: Spring Break Art Journal Walk - SOLD OUT
  • Today, March 18, at 2 p.m.: Bailey Tract Tour
  • Friday, March 19, at 11 a.m., Indigo Trail Walk
  • Saturday, March 20, at 10 a.m.: Guided Mindfulness Walk at Bailey Tract 
  • Sunday, March 21, at 9:30 a.m.: Beach Walk
  • Tuesday, March 23, at 1:30 p.m.: Spring Break Art Journal Walk
Guided Bailey Tract tours depart Thursday at 2 p.m.
      Check out our current 

Support Conservation Education by becoming a sponsor.  100% tax deductible.  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 Sponsors

Protector Sponsors

Defender Sponsors
 Green Food Packaging Alternative

While working at home, reusable glass containers make an earth-friendly option for storing leftovers or portioning out your lunch break snacks. When on the go, however, they may become cumbersome. That's where Bee's Wrap reusable beeswax food wraps come in. They're easily portable and hold up to wrapping, washing, and rewrapping for up to a year. See this post in "The Discover Blog" for one author's take on the convenience and earth-friendliness of Bee's Wraps.
You can buy different sizes of Bee's Wraps from The Nature Store's two outlets at the Refuge and 2250 Periwinkle Way, or order online at
'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. 

Location: 11,047 acres; Manila, Arkansas
Totemic Fauna: Bald Eagle, Wood Duck
Visitor's Tip: A visitor's center, observation platform, boat ramps, fishing piers, and hiking trails await the visitor.  

Images courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Bald Eagles
Wood Ducks

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by David Jeffrey
Reddish Egrets have recently been spotted along Wildlife Drive. Adult Reddish Egrets are often dark blue with a red neck and head, but there is a
rare type which is a fully white morph seen in this photo. When mating, males and females don't appear to mind which morph they pair up with.

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.
Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding - March 31, 2021

Lecture SeriesThrough March 19, 2021

Free Refuge ToursThrough April 11, 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 - November 15 - December 31, 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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