SCA Intern Ariel Lupito grapples with Wisconsin Wildlife
Photo: Me (correctly!) identifying a Wild Lupine flower, the host plant of the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly– a focus of conservation here at Necedah.
“So I keep seeing this bird flying around, could any of you tell me what it is? Its body is all black and it has some red on its wings.”
“You mean a red-winged blackbird?”
“…Oh… Yeah, that makes sense!”
The little devil itself. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS
This conversation took many forms, and being a wildlife ID novice, I was quick to find any shortcuts I could to keep track of the names. I soon noticed a pattern in the naming process: trait + body part + animal = common name. For example, there’s the red-winged blackbird, the redheaded woodpecker, the large-mouth bass, the yellow-faced bee, the white-tailed deer… They really tell it like it is!
After taking note of this nifty pattern, I realized, as it so often happens, my shortcut wasn’t foolproof. I was introduced to those who could not be confined to an easy to remember, beginner-friendly nomenclature. Animals like… the ovenbird? The bobolink? The timberdoodle?!
Wildlife ID seemed a little more menacing now.
Thankfully, it is not my job to identify every single living thing in the refuge (although I wish I could). However, it is my job to seek out learning opportunities about Necedah so that I will be the most informed environmental educator and interpreter that I can be.
In my first few weeks there was (and still is) a lot I don’t know. But that didn’t mean I was useless! On my second day at work I was already teaching elementary students about habitats, the specifics of which I had just learned that morning. Last week I helped design a wetland critters interpretative program, pictured here. Fortunately for me, no one asked about timberdoodles.
(But here’s one, in case you were wondering):
Photo by USFWS Midwest
As an anthropology major, I think of conservation as essential for not only wildlife to survive, but also for humans to thrive, and I am interested in reconnecting people to the earth. Without nature, humankind and all of its creations would simply not exist. I believe that, no matter how much of an indoors person you are, you can always find something to love about the natural world. I mean, who could refuse a beautiful sunset on a warm summer night? I hope to help visitors discover what they love here at Necedah, whether it follows a simple pattern or not.