Widely acclaimed as one of the top nonfiction thrillers of its time, Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century centers on the outrageous heist of rare bird skins from England’s Tring Museum in 2009. Investigative journalist Kirk Wallace Johnson tells the tale with the intrigue of crime fiction. He will speak about his long-researched book at a special “Ding” Darling lecture on Friday, March 19, at 10 a.m. in the Community House at 2173 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island.  The lecture wraps up this season’s “Ding” Darling Lecture Series.


Johnson is also the author of To Be a Friend is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind. His writing has appeared in The New YorkerNew York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post Magazine, and Wall Street Journal. His third book, The Fishermen and the Dragon: Two Dreams at War off the Texas Coast, published in 2021.


Due to COVID, the author will not be signing copies of Feather Thief following the lecture. However, pre-signed copies will be available to purchase at the lecture that day and after the lecture at the Nature Store’s two Sanibel Island locations at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and 2250 Periwinkle Way. Profits from sales benefit conservation efforts at the refuge.
“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) hosts the 17th annual lecture series; and Ashton Kirchner Group/Keller Williams Realty Sanibel & Captiva, HighTower/Thomas & Swartz Wealth Management, Geoffrey & Karen Moss, and Sanibel Carts sponsor Johnson’s 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 lecture 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.


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



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 dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4, or [email protected].