February 11, 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 and Instagram 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 numbers to nearly 16,000 followers on each platform.
Whether you live on Sanibel Island or in a completely different environment in faraway places like California or Massachusetts, we want to see what you're seeing in your habitat while you are staying safe at home. 

Thank you to Sharon Grant from Fort Myers, Florida, for sending a photo of a Bald Eagle in an Australian Pine.

Thank you to Tamara C. Morris from Terryville, Connecticut, for sending a photo from fall of a Great Blue Heron.

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.
Looking Forward to Florida's Legislative Session
by Jim Metzler, DDWS Advocacy Committee Co-Chair
Last year was a challenging one for several reasons, most notably the pandemic. The discussion of those challenges often superseded the discussion of environmental issues. However, the water-related issues that have impacted the Refuge in the past remain, and they still threaten "Ding" Darling. With that in mind, this article will review some of the topics that will be discussed at the upcoming Florida legislative session and will end with a note of optimism relative to READ MORE
In Case You Missed It
     Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried has asked incoming Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan to reconsider a recent EPA decision that shifted federal permitting authority to Florida for projects that affect wetlands. See more 
     Florida agrees to buy more conservation land in Hendry County. See more

February 15: Fee-Free Day on Wildlife Drive

Motor, bike, or hike through Wildlife Drive for free on President's Day.
In honor of President's Day on Monday, February 15, Wildlife Drive will be open fee-free all day from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. For the national holiday, the "Ding" Darling Visitors & Education Center will close. All other facilities - including the America's Best Restroom, Tarpon Bay Explorers rentals and tours, Bailey Tract, and all trails will remain open.
February 17: Bird of Prey Film

Get a sneak preview of the documentary.
The ninth annual "Ding" Darling Film Series will adapt to distancing and pandemic safety protocols with virtual airings and follow-up discussions via Zoom. It continues on Wednesday, February 17, with Bird of Prey, a 94-minute documentary that takes viewers on a journey upon the wings of the world's rarest eagle, the Philippine eagle.
Unlike other films in the series, this film ONLY is available to be streamed from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST on February 17, so make sure to mark your calendars for this time. A Zoom virtual discussion is scheduled for 5 p.m. Pre-registration for the film and discussion are required. Those who register for the film will READ MORE
Thanks to our 2021 Film Series sponsor: 
Friday, February 19: Bald Eagle Lecture

Pulitzer-winning author Jack E. Davis; credit Debbie Thomas
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, 2173 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island, starting at 10 a.m. on Friday, February 19.
Historian Davis will share knowledge and images 
Thanks to our generous sponsors for supporting this lecture.
from his forthcoming Bird of Paradox: How the Bald Eagle Saved the Soul of AmericaThe Wilder Heart of Florida: More Writers Inspired by Florida Nature, which he edited and contributed to, has just released. It includes READ MORE

A book-signing will follow this lecture. 
Missed previous lectures? 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. Following CDC guidelines, there will be socially distanced seating for the free lectures. Seating will be limited and available on a first-come basis. DDWS asks guests to avoid lining up before 8:45 a.m. 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. 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 a.m.
Farewell, Joann

Congratulations and best wishes to Joann Hinman, who has served as the DDWS Office Manager for the past four years and as Assistant Store Manager before that, starting in July 2016. "Joann has been a godsend to our operation, always efficiently keeping on top of bookkeeping and office operations," said DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller. "We're really going to miss her, but wish her the best of luck in her highly deserved retirement years.  She will officially retire in May, 2021. 
    Anyone interested in applying for the vacating DDWS Business Office Manager position should contact DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 232.

"You float my boat" 
A perfect Valentine's day gift!  
It is a beautifully restored 1946 Evinrude engine.  
It is a piece of artwork.
It is a piece of history.  
AND proceeds from the sale go to benefit conservation efforts at the Refuge.  

Free Refuge Seasonal Tours
Join the guided Bailey Tract Tour today by registering online.
The Refuge has received the green light for offering socially distanced tours of 10 people or less. There's no set schedule, so please monitor the Eventbrite page to see what staff and volunteers are currently offering and to sign up for tours through April 11. Please bring your own binoculars and scopes.
Upcoming Tours:
TODAY, February 11, at 2 p.m.: Bailey Tract Tour 
New Tour Guidelines:
  • Masks and social-distancing adherence is 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. 221.
 Check out our current Free Tours Flyer
WoWing Southwest Florida
A small school group at Tice Elementary learns from the Refuge's Urban Conservation Leader Melissa Maher.
Our new Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) urban mobile classroom has begun its weeklong visits to underserved schools around the five-county area. It and the Education Team spend this week at Tice Elementary School; starting next week it will be available to Lehigh Elementary students for two weeks. Between school engagements, the Education Team is scheduling appearances open to the public at the Refuge and around Southwest Florida. Monitor the WoW page for news about public touring.
The Refuge hosted public WoW tours last week.
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.

In the spirit of creativity and accessibility, we decided to shake up our annual Go Wild for "Ding" fundraiser. We hope you will join us as a sponsor. The 2021 Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding will take place virtually on Wednesday, March 31, as a playful emulation of the comforting and classic Jeopardy game show.  Please thank the current sponsors below.  

Thanks to those sponsors who are already supporting our fundraising event. Email April Boehnen to become a sponsor today!

Call of the Wild Sponsors:

John & Wendy
Champion Sponsors:
Guardian Sponsors:

Protector Sponsors:
Defender Sponsors:
February 15: High School Photo Contest Deadline
Contest namesake Theodore Cross

The deadline for the eighth annual "Ding" Darling-Theodore Cross High School Photography Contest is February 15, 2021. 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, chartered class trips to the Refuge, and copies of Waterbirds: Portraits and Anecdotes from Birding Adventures by contest namesake, the late Theodore Cross.
 Guidelines and prize information are posted online. Call DDWS at 239-472-1100 ext. 4 for READ MORE
                Eco-Friendly Pets

Cats and dogs, too, can have an impact on the environment. 
Here are some green tips for pet care:
  • Pets account for about 30% of the environmental impact on meat production in the U.S. Many overeat, and more than half of American pets are overweight. Check with your vet to see if you should scale back.
  • Check food labels. Look for organ meat and animal byproducts that use parts of animals that otherwise would be wasted.
  • Repurpose bags from newspapers or groceries for bagging dog droppings. If you need to buy bags, look for those made from recycled plastic.
  • For cats, choose litter made from recycled or natural materials such as wood, wheat, or corn.
  • Free-ranging pet cats kill more than an estimated 400 million birds in this country each year. Keep cats indoors when possible, or consider an outdoor leash.
  • Source: Eating Well magazine.
Spoonie Activity Contest
In partnership with our 2019 Artist in Residence Ed Anderson and West Mountain Drifters, we are holding a contest for kids ages 14 and younger through February 12. Follow the instructions for downloading, completing, and submitting the Roseate Spoonbill Activity Sheet to win fun prizes. The Roseate Spoonbill is one of the most-loved and beautiful birds at "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Decorate yours however you wish to share on social media.

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Turkey Vultures have been spotted along Wildlife Drive. As a reminder, the best time to see many of our avian species along the drive is during low tide.

Turkey Vultures have a strong sense of smell that they use to hunt for food. They also have a strong immune system, which is why they can eat carrion without contracting illnesses. 

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.
'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.
Image courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Location: 44,413 acres; Freeport, Texas

Totemic Flora and FaunaMore than 400 species of birds, 95 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 130 species of butterflies and dragonflies pass through or live in the refuge.

Visitor's Tip: The Discovery Center is located within the refuge's Big Slough Recreation Area.
Monitor our  COVID-19 page for news of event cancellations or reschedules.

Lecture Series January 29 - March 19, 2021

Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding - March 31, 2021

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