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First woman Big Year winner to present ‘Ding’ Darling lectures

By Staff | Feb 28, 2019


In 2017, Naples resident Yve Morrell became the first woman to tally the most species of birds for the American Birding Association’s North American Big Year with a count of 817.

The devoted birder will present a free program, “The Big Year: A First for Women,” on March 8 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. as part of the 2019 lecture series and in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month at the J.N. “Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

An annual, informal competition, the North American Big Year sees birders canvassing the continent to break previous records. The highest record count to date was in 2016 with 836 species recorded.

From Florida to Arizona, Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands, Morrell covered more than 127,000 miles by air and another 30,000 by car, not to mention how many she hiked. She also spent 20 days at sea to capture pelagic species, despite bouts of seasickness. She recorded her sightings on her online blog at thedancingbirder.com.

HighTower/Thomas & Swartz Wealth Management sponsors the 11-lecture series with support from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge. The free lectures are held on Fridays through April 12. The remaining schedule is listed below; some include book signings:

– March 15: Jeremy Conrad, “Sea Level Rise: Globally & Locally”

– March 22: Dusty “Wildman” Crum, Robbie and Geoff Roepstorff, and Mike Kirkland, “Pythons: The Hunters, the Science”

– March 29: Marine scientist Lauren Blickley, “Drastic Plastic – Turning the Tide on Plastic Pollution”

– April 5: Ornithologist Dr. Jerry Lorenz, “Flamingos & Spoonbills: Pink Canaries in a Coal Mine”

– April 12: Author Denege Patterson, “Five Islands Never Flooded: A Tour of the Islands of Pine Island Sound, Florida”*

*book signing to follow

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

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.