‘Ding’ Darling Days Start in Sanibel Island Oct. 18

DATE: October 16, 2015

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns.”

Those words, etched into the eternal fabric of one of humanity’s most profound religions, ring especially poignant when you ponder Sanibel Island’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Established in 1967, this vast sprawl of land in southwestern Florida – at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico – salutes “every fowl of the air,” that brilliant flight of the migratory bird population. Named for cartoonist Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, the refuge stretches across more than 6,400 acres of mangrove forest, submerged seagrass beds, cordgrass marshes and West Indian hardwood hammocks; it is considered the nation’s largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystems, according to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.

Known for his pioneering efforts, Darling helped block the sale of environmentally valuable land to developers and urged President Harry Truman to create the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge in 1945. The 2,619-acre northern section of refuge was established in 1976.

The refuge was created to protect Sanibel Island’s pristine wildlife habitat and to provide feeding, nesting and roosting areas for the migratory birds, according to FWS. More than 245 species of birds find refuge in the area.

‘Ding’ Darling Days Start in Sanibel Island Oct. 18

“Ding Darling Days are a great time for families to have fun while learning  about island wildlife and celebrating one of the aspects that makes Sanibel so unique –  its nearly 70 percent of nature laden preserve space” said Donna Brown, Marketing Manager.  “As the Best Full Service Resort on the Islands, Sundial Beach Resort & Spa is the perfect place to stay while visiting and enjoying this special week of festivities.”

The 26th annual “Ding” Darling Days celebration is from Oct. 18 – 24. The free Family Day begins 10:45 a.m. Oct. 18 with a flag-raising ceremony at the Education Center entrance. Activity events are free.

“Oct. 21 is Ding’s birthday, so it makes it extra special,” Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland told the Captiva Current, Sanibel Island’s weekly newspaper. Westland said the first celebration was only one day and began as way of educating the public on environmental issues during National Wildlife Refuge week.

‘Ding’ Darling Days Start in Sanibel Island Oct. 18

Numerous activities are scheduled throughout the week and are listed at dingdarlingsociety.org.

Here is a list of the days:

  • 18 is Free Family Fun Day.
  • 19 is Pollinator Day.
  • 20 is Beach & Water Day.
  • 21 is Eco-Innovation Day.
  • 22 is Calusa Day.
  • 23 is Trails Day.
  • 24 is Conservation Art Day.

Heather Henson, Jim Henson’s daughter, is expected to feature her IBEX Puppetry troupe on Oct. 18. A Pollinators Walk with one of the refuge rangers is scheduled for Oct. 19.

A beach walk at Perry Tract and other activities are set for Oct. 20. Tours and activities are scheduled throughout the remainder of the week. The winners of the Junior Duck Stamp, Federal Duck Stamp and State Junior Duck Stamp, art-based curriculum designed to recognize conservation-related activities, will be presented Oct. 24.

Looking for the finest experiences Florida has to offer?  Sundial Beach Resort & Spa celebrates the best things in life. For more information, call 866-565-5093.

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