Tell us a bit about yourself:
I currently live in Madison and have lived in Wisconsin on and off for four years. From 2017 to 2019, I was a Masters student at UW-Madison in the Forest and Wildlife Ecology Department. Now, I’m a research ecologist with Oregon State University, where I work with a collaborative team of scientists to understand the effects of landscape change (e.g., wildfire, climate change, forest management) on mammal communities. From August to November, I spend my time in the field in northern California and southern Oregon collecting data for our research projects, and then the rest of the year working remotely in Madison with my partner and our two dogs.
How would you describe your involvement with birds?
Opportunistic, enthusiastic, and curious. I’ve always been interested in the natural world, but didn’t start formally birding until 2013 during my undergraduate degree at the University of Maine. As a student, I was able to tag along and help out ornithologists and researchers with bird-banding efforts, point counts, and some recreational birding outings in the boreal forests, bogs, and rocky shorelines of central Maine. Being surrounded by a community of knowledgeable ecologists, birders, and generally-enthusiastic naturalists really sparked my interest in birding. Since then, I’ve lived in a number of states for temporary jobs, graduate school, and now my permanent position. Birding, and birds themselves, are a reliable motivator for me to explore my surroundings regardless of the season or setting.
What led you to join the WSO?
I joined the WSO relatively recently after seeing it mentioned on the Wisconsin Birding e-mail listserv. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of it during my time at UW-Madison. I have been excited to have another resource to see what the birding community of Wisconsin is up to.
Do you have a favorite Wisconsin bird? If so, why that bird?
It’s so hard to choose, but one of my all-time favorite birds is the Brown Creeper – I love their cryptic, yet complex, plumage, their behavior, and their beautiful song. On a cold winter day, nothing lifts my spirits like hearing the first thin, whispering note of their song or calls.
Have you had a recent memorable experience with birds or while birding?
Sometimes I feel as though I have birding amnesia – my most recent memorable experience is always my last birding outing! However, I’ve really enjoyed this year’s slow, but steady, stream of migrants. Highlights for me always include shorebirds – I really enjoyed the good looks we had at a Wilson’s Phalarope at Nine Springs Natural Area in Madison – warblers, and waterfowl.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your experience with birds?
I love birding, but I’m an ecologist by trade and strive to be a naturalist, too. I love thinking about birds as members of complex and dynamic communities and am striving to learn more about bird behavior and ecology, as well as the plants, animals, etc. that birds may interact with in their seasonal homes. As weather, climate, and landscapes continue to change, I think a lot about how the behavior of birds (and birders!) may have to change to adapt to shifting conditions. In the meantime, I’m always excited to bird with and learn from other birders, so if you see me out and about or want to bird together, feel free to say hello!