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‘Ding’ Darling lecture takes flight with swallow-tailed kites

By Staff | Apr 4, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Dr. Kenneth Meyer, executive director of the Avian Research and Conservation Institute, has been studying swallow-tailed kites for more than 20 years.

Dr. Kenneth Meyer has twice received a Partners in Flight National Research Award for studying the conservation biology of species at risk, and also a National Wildlife Stewardship Award from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative for studies of swallow-tailed kites.

As the final event in the 2018 “Ding” Darling Lecture Series, he will present the free program “Swallow-tailed Kites: 10,000 Miles to Survival” on April 13 at 10 a.m. and at 1 p.m. in the Visitor & Education Center at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel.

Prior to the 1900s, swallow-tailed kites nested in 21 states, but a decline from 1880 to 1940 resulted in the current scattered population mainly in six southeastern states, including Florida. Since 1996, Meyer, executive director of the Avian Research and Conservation Institute, has used satellite telemetry with his staff in Gainesville to describe the 10,000-mile round-trip migration of swallow-tailed kites and to identify impacts on survival and reproduction.

Meyer co-founded ARCI in 1997. He and his team have studied the behavior and ecology of 16 species of birds of conservation concern from eastern Canada to Puerto Rico. He is currently conducting satellite telemetry studies on mangrove cuckoos and reddish egrets at the refuge, funded by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge.

HighTower/Thomas & Swartz Wealth Management sponsors the 12-lecture series with support from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge.

Seating for the lectures is limited and available on a first-come basis. Early arrivals can save one seat extra each with a personal item and then may explore the Visitor & Education Center or Indigo Trail before the lecture starts. Saved seats must be filled 15 minutes before lecture time.

As usual, Wildlife Drive closes on Friday, but visitors are welcome to enjoy the free Visitor & Education Center, Indigo Trail, and recreational opportunities at Tarpon Bay Explorers, the refuge’s official recreation concession located at its Tarpon Bay Recreation Area.

For more information, call 239-472-1100 ext. 241 or visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/lecture-and-film-series. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is at 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel.