“Ding Darling Days is a family-focused celebration of birds, nature and weeklong eco-activities. Sunday kicks off the week with free refuge-tram tours, live wildlife presentations and plenty of attractions for the kids: hot dogs, crafts, and more.
The 2017 festival is Oct. 15-21 at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Florida, on Sanibel Island, a subtropical barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. It is named for political cartoonist and conservation activist Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling. In October, many shorebirds and colonial birds are present. White Pelicans and other migratory birds are arriving.
There is no registration for the festival, but amateur photographers can enter a nature photography contest that opens July 15, 2017. , which may interest your audience.
The festival is a great way for anybody to experience part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is a spectacular, pristine place to see large numbers of migratory birds. It’s also home to bobcats, river otters, American Alligators, American Crocodiles, turtles and tortoises, West Indian Manatees, 3 sea turtle species, and color-changing Green Anoles.
Big-5 at Ding Darling Days
The refuge is regularly visited by threatened bird species, such as Red Knots, Piping Plovers and Wood Storks and 240 other species.
The online database of bird observations called eBird lists Sanibel Island as a birding hotspot with 245 species.
Participants of the week-long event will not only see an array of birds, but the festival features discounted birding trips, boating, tram rides, paddle-boarding, and kayaking activities. The 2017 celebration ends on Saturday, Oct. 21 with Conservation Art Day, where Federal Duck Stamp winners will appear with other artists and cartoonists. There also will be a refuge photography tram tour. The entire final day is devoted to Jay Norwood Darling’s legacy as the first duck stamp artist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist.
At Darling’s urging, President Harry S. Truman signed an Executive Order creating the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge in 1945. It was renamed after Darling’s death in 1962.
The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, a non-profit Friends of the Refuge organization, sponsors Ding Darling Days and is a year-round supporter of environmental education and services at the refuge. The society is funded by membership fees and private contributions.