Following his Pulitzer-winning book about the Gulf of Mexico, Jack E. Davis focuses on bald eagles in a historical context. The popular author and lecturer will speak about “The Bald Eagle: Symbol and Species in American History” at a “Ding” Darling lecture at The Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island, starting at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 19.


Historian Davis will share knowledge and images from his forthcoming Bird of Paradox: How the Bald Eagle Saved the Soul of America. His new The Wilder Heart of Florida: More Writers Inspired by Florida Nature, which he edited and contributed to, along with Leslie K. Poole, has just released. It includes an essay by frequent “Ding” Darling lecturer Cynthia Barnett about Sanibel Island and its shells. Davis is also author of The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea and An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century.


In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, he has racked up a number of other honors for his books and teaching stints at schools from the University of Birmingham to the University of Jordan in Amman. He has written for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Tampa Bay Times, Orion, and other publications.


Bird of Paradox is a natural and cultural history of the bald eagle from pre-European settlement to the present. It will look at the historical relationship between Americans and the bald eagle as a national symbol and natural species.


Following the lecture, Davis will sign copies of The Wilder Heart, available for purchase on-site that day or in advance at any of the Nature Store outlets. Locations include the “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel, at 2250 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel, and online at Profits from Nature Store sales directly benefit refuge education and research.
“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) hosts the 17th annual lecture series, and Southwest Florida Eagle Cam sponsors Davis’ lecture.


This season’s “Ding” Darling Lecture Series evolves with the times and persisting distance protocols by moving to a larger venue. Socially distanced seating for the free lectures is limited and available on a first-come basis. Staff will be distributing entry wristbands to attendees beginning at 9 a.m. that day, after taking touch-free temperature readings. Guests must be wearing wristbands and facemasks to enter the lecture room. Early arrivals may save their seat and one other with personal items. Saved seats must be filled by 9:45.


The season’s remaining schedule is listed below. Book signings follow all remaining lectures.

Note: Opinions expressed in guest lectures do not necessarily reflect the views of refuge and DDWS management, staff, and board of directors.


Upcoming lectures:


*Friday, Feb. 19 – Author Jack Davis, “The Bald Eagle: Symbol and Species in American History,” sponsored by Southwest Florida Eagle Cam


*Friday, March 12 – Author Paul Bannick, “Gray Owl: A Visual Natural History,” sponsored by Bill & Laurie Harkey


*Friday. March 19 – Author Kirk W. Johnson, Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century, sponsored by Ashton Kirchner Group/Keller Williams Realty Sanibel & Captiva, HighTower/Thomas & Swartz Wealth Management, Geoffrey & Karen Moss, and Sanibel Carts


*starred lecture indicates book signing to follow



As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop profits.


To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit or contact Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4, or [email protected].