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‘Ding’ Darling film series to kick off with ‘Bluebird Man’

By Staff | Jan 7, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED DDWS is airing the film “The Swamp” in conjunction with local appearances by Michael Grunwald, author of “The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise,” which informed the documentary.

The popular free “Ding” Darling Wednesday Film Series will kick off on Jan. 8 with a film that follows a man trying to understand the bluebirds decline.

“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society Development Officer Sierra Hoisington said the eighth annual “Ding” Darling Wednesday Film Series is a great way to bring documentaries to the public that are not available for people to watch on their own devices, or are not well-known. She said they wanted to bring the conservation messages to the public for free.

Hoisington said she typically starts finding the documentaries in the summer through basic searches of conservation films. She said she tries to pair the film in conjunction with their lecture series.

“A lot of them have similar themes,” Hoisington said of the film and lecture series.

The eighth annual film series will kick off with “Bluebird Man.” The film focuses on Alfred Larson, a 91-year old who has been monitoring and maintaining more than 300 nest boxes for bluebirds in Idaho for 35 years to learn about the bird’s decline. He was among the first citizen scientists to take up the North American Bluebird Society call to action back in 1978 as bluebirds were facing steep declines since the 1950s.

Bluebirds rely on tree cavities to build their nests. Introduced species such as European starlings and house sparrows often outcompete bluebirds for the nesting cavities. The non-profit society launched its campaign to encourage citizens from all walks of life to put up nest boxes specifically designed for bluebirds, thereby playing an instrumental role in the bluebird’s recovery.

The 30-minute Emmy Award-nominated film follows Larson’s journey as he bands more than 27,000 bluebirds and finds the secret to longevity in the process.

The remaining films include: “Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?” on Jan. 22; “Water & Power: A California Heist” on Feb 5; “BLUE” on Feb. 19; “Ghost Bird” on March 4; “The Swamp” on March 18; and “Bird of Prey” on April 1.

Hoisington said “BLUE” talks about the plastics around the ocean, which are centralized around Australia. “The Swamp,” a highlight of the series, shares the repeated efforts to transform the Florida Everglades into an agricultural and urban kingdom.

All the films will be shown at 1 p.m. in the Visitor and Education Center at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, at 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel.

She said individuals are more than welcome to attend the film showing and take a stroll around the Nature Center to learn more about what “Ding” has to offer.

“After every single film we host a short discussion where people are more than welcome to ask questions about the film, or point out what they have learned. Those typically last around 30 minutes after the film,” Hoisington said.

She said the film series are well attended, so she advises individuals to come early to ensure they get a seat. Seating is limited and on a first-come basis.

The DDWS hosts the film showings with sponsorship from Sanibel-Captiva Beach Resorts.

For more information, visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/lecture-and-film-series.