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It Begins, Monarch Migration
September 10, 2012

As darkness grips the night skies, you may spot Cygnus flying high in the night skies (facing south), while Scorpio slowly makes its way across the southwestern skies.

A mini dove convention at one of my feeders. There were six more hanging out that didn't make the picture.

It has been a busy time around here.

Cool fronts issued in some nice October weather, but only enough rain to get the ground wet (if that).

That's been the story of this summer.

This past Thursday, Karen and I enjoyed an almost perfect few hours at the Big Lake in Holland.

Temperatures were in the the low to mid 80's.

Water temperature in the 70's (good enough for me). calm and crystal clear.

What was really nice, this vast beach of sugar sand and less than 100 people.

You know that made it good.

Besides all that Lake Michigan has to offer, I spotted a couple of Piping Plovers as they walked the shoreline with a handful of seagulls.

Piping Plovers are not a common sight, as they are still on the 'Threatened' and in some locations 'Endangered Species List'.

I rarely bring my camera to the beach (sand and all), and if I did, I was in the water when I spotted the little birds.

It is always a treat to see these little shore birds.

I make every attempt to take my evening walks, and there have been very few rain cancellations this year.

Walks in the evening, turning to darkness are more relaxing for me (not to mention less heat stress).

I get to enjoy the natural surroundings.

Sunsets can be special,

Stopping to watch a Big Brown Bat hunting and feeding can make a person dizzy.

Often I will see a few deer grazing in a field near woods edge.

Last week I watched a Great Horned Owl perched high on a snag.

Without notice, the owl swooped down and didn't come back up.

At least not where I could see it.

I'm sure dinner was served.

Night skies take over, and on clear nights I star gaze and watch an occasional satellite drift over head

Walks also allow me quite time.

Time to be with the 'Creator' of all life.

That is important to me, to spend time with my 'Father'.

I digress.......................

On most nights this time of year, I notice toads on the streets.

Toads of every size.

Here I am, scooping up toads and putting them back in the grass so they don't become pancakes.

It finally dawned on me.

A cold blooding creature...............................

What better way to warm up on a late summer night than to lay on a nice solar heated black top service.

I'm slow at times, but I got it figured out.

It's On.

Monarch Migration that is.

A sight that is common this time of year along the coastal Great Lakes is a growing number of monarch butterflies.

A person can sit and casually watch the orange and black wonders drift with the breeze as the slowly make the trip south.

Yet another one of 'Creation's' many marvels..........

A creature that has never seen anything beyond the small plot it grew up and nectared in, instinctively knows when and where to go.

God is Good.

This week's article.

Monarch Migration.


Unlike their great-grandparents they have never flown more than a few hundred meters in their lives but they head out over Great Lakes and vast regions without hesitation.

This is the first leg of one of the world’s greatest migrations. Monarchs are renowned for their migration.

Yet no single monarch has ever completed the round trip

It takes several generations because of the sheer distance involved.

There being safety in numbers this leads to what is surely one of nature’s most spectacular sights – that of millions of monarchs congregating together.

In Canada and the northern United States of America, the butterfly begins this massive yearly migration in August and early September.

The butterflies fuel up on nectar in the northern States and Canada ... it is time to leave.

Soon the single individuals are joined by other monarchs who have travelled from all over North America.

The butterflies are not able to survive the cold winters of most of the United States and Canada, so they migrate south and west each autumn to escape the cold weather.

Monarch Migration usually starts in September up north into October and November the further south we head, but can start earlier if the weather turns cold sooner than that.

I have seen monarchs in October, so there is no set table, but there is a time table to beat.

The monarch butterflies will spend their winter hibernating in Mexico and some parts of Southern California where it is warm all year long.

Butterflies that live in the Eastern states, usually east of the Rocky Mountains, it will migrate to Mexico and hibernate in Oyamel fir trees.

Populations west of the Rocky Mountains, will hibernate in and around Pacific Grove, California in eucalyptus trees.

Monarchs use the very same trees (if they are still standing) each and every year when they migrate, which seems odd because they aren’t the same butterflies that were there last year, and their a simple insect.

(Odd? Only if you don't believe in a Creator.)

These are the new fourth or fifth generation of monarch butterflies

So how do they know which trees are the right ones to hibernate in?

Creation is pretty amazing, isn't it?

Monarch are the only insect that migrates to a warmer climate that is 2,500 miles away each year.

They migrate for a couple of reasons.

They can not withstand freezing weather in the northern and central continental climates in the winter.

Also, the larval food plants do not grow in their winter overwintering sites, so the spring generation must fly back north to places where the plants are plentiful.

More Monarch Facts and Tidbits.

Other issues Monarchs must face.


Development (subdivisions, factories, shopping centers, etc.) in the U.S. is consuming habitats for monarchs and other wildlife at a rate of 6,000 acres per day, that's 2.2 million acres each year.

In Mexico, forests (winter hibernation habitat) are being logged illegally, shrinking every year.

Genetically Modified Crops.

As I mentioned earlier this year, widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans has resulted in the loss of more than 80 million acres of monarch habitat in recent years.

Roadside Management.

The use of herbicides and frequent mowing along roadsides has converted much of this habitat to grasslands - a habitat generally lacking in food and shelter for wildlife.

Although some states have started to increase the diversity of plantings along roadsides, including milkweeds, these programs are small.

Unfortunately, the remaining milkweed habitats in pastures, hayfields, edges of forests, grasslands, native prairies, and urban areas are not sufficient to sustain the large monarch populations seen in the 1990s.

Monarchs face a bigger challenge this year.

With the heat and drought, nectaring flowers are down across the lands.

Especially through the Great Lakes, Mid West and Prairies, and into Oklahoma and Texas, where droughts have made life difficult for all creatures.

Monarchs need our help.

Would you like to help track monarch butterfly migrations?

Visit Monarchwatch for lots of information on tracking migrations with a color map.

Well, it is time to fly.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

Peace is seeing a sunset and knowing whom to thank.

- Amish proverb

A bit of wisdom there.

Knowing who to thank and He will give you His peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27 (NIV)

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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