Migration Update: April 23, 2004
South Winds Blow Butterflies and Songbirds Northward
Though the numbers
of monarchs are still down, the migration’s northward expansion has
been incredible during the past week. Sightings have now been reported as
far north as Pennsylvania, New York and possibly Maine! (We’re awaiting
confirmation at the time of writing.) To date this year, only 125 monarchs
have been reported, compared to 193 last year at this time.
Look at the
collection of weather maps from last week. Count the number of days the
wind blew from the south in Texas and points northward. Did this strong
and sustained southerly flow blow monarchs northward?
migration specialist said the past week was a terrific week weather-wise
for northbound songbirds. He wrote on Wednesday, “Well, that front
I talked about last week doesn't want to move. This means there have been
southerly winds, which have allowed migrants--both new arrivals from the
tropics as well as past arrivals continuing their migration--to stream
No Monarchs in Monticello, Arkansas
"At least I haven't seen any," said Dr. Jim Edson on April
22nd. In 7 years of keeping records, April 12th was the latest first
sighting. And although he hasn't been able to watch every moment of
every day, his milkweed plants have been standing sentinel. They still
don't have a single egg. Female monarchs have an incredible ability
to find milkweed, so the lack of eggs further supports the presumption
of a very low population size this spring.
Can you see the milkweed?
Lincoln Brower Comments on Weak Migration of 2004
“There are practically no monarchs getting back into North Florida
from Mexico this spring,” concludes Dr.
Brower. He and his students have monitored migration at the same site
in Cross Creek, Florida most years since 1981. The first adult butterfly,
usually seen in late March, wasn’t sighted until April 10. Its fresh
wings meant the butterfly had recently emerged. But the timing suggests
it’s a Florida butterfly, not the offspring of a butterfly from Mexico.
the Wings: A Photo Quiz for Practice
Every year at
this time, we ask observers to carefully note the condition of a monarch’s
wings. Most monarchs that over-wintered in Mexico are dead by the end of
April. Fresh new butterflieschildren of those that overwintered in
Mexico-will continue the journey north. This year’s first sighting
in Texas of a monarch in mint condition was on April 13. These photos show
monarchs at various stages of wing wear. Try the quiz, and practice watching
Butterfly wings become worn and faded over time.
Photo: Harlen Aschen
What happens to a monarch that fades and damages its wings over time?
You can probably answer this question yourself if you’ve been learning
about monarchs since you came to school last fall. How many misadventures
can you imagine in the day-to-day life of a monarch butterfly?
Courtesy of Harlen Aschen
butterfly is the oldest? The newest? Try the quiz!
of a Life's Journey
If a monarch butterfly could talk, just think of the stories it could tell!
Imagine a butterfly whose life began 8 months ago in the north, and write
its life story.
the Scientist: Challenge Question #16
What would you do if you saw a butterfly and you weren’t sure whether
or not it was a monarch? An observer in New Jersey did just the right thing.
She described the butterfly she saw in careful detail. Her verbal description
is almost as good as a photo:
Monarch's wings had a black outline on the edge of the wings. It had
black spots on the wings and the black spots were surrounded by a yellowish-orange
color. Its antennae had a bright yellow dot on it."
a butterfly field guide, look carefully at the photos, and see if you
can answer this question:
“What kind of butterfly do you think the New Jersey observer saw?
Which field marks helped you most in deciding whether or not this was
to this question, please follow the instructions below.)
or Butterflies? Conservation Perspectives Have Changed
In this month’s
Conservation Perspectives from Mexico, Jordi Honey-Roses describes a remarkable
change. “In the 1990’s, the discussion often pitted conservationists
against the local campesinos in a struggle over how best to use or protect
the forest resource. Monarch butterfly conservation in Mexico was cited
to illustrate the conflict between human needs and the protection of a species
habitat: where local farmers pressured to continue logging and conservationists
sought permanent protection of the Monarch’s habitat. Now conservationists
and many local campesinos are united and working together for the same objective:
to stop the illegal logging.”
- What are
the local people doing to stop illegal logging?
- Why are
they now united with conservationists in their view about how the forest
resource should be managed?
for Teachers: Reading Strategies for Primary Source Materials
These first-hand accounts of conservation work in Mexico provide compelling,
primary-source material for students. For classroom use see:
Day Ecological Footprint: Take the Quiz
lived like the average U.S. citizen, it would take more than five planets
to support the world's population.
do you measure up? Take the Ecological Footprint quiz and measure your
impact on the planet.
does your footprint compare to that of the typical child who lives near
the monarch sanctuaries in Mexico? Gather information from these stories
and estimate the size of a family’s footprint in Michoacan, Mexico:
the Sanctuaries With Grandfather Brower (Part 2)
it like to visit the monarch’s winter refuge with a famous scientist?
Thanks to Alex White for sharing the story about his recent trip to Mexico
with his grandfather, Dr. Lincoln Brower. In today’s story, Alex
“When we arrived at the colony we rented horses and guides to take
us up a very steep climb to the colony site. We were all still very tired
from our previous day of hiking, so we decided to take it easy. Riding
the horses up was actually very fun. I had only ridden a horse once before,
but mine was quite mellow and I had a guide holding the reins anyway.
There was a VERY steep path that we--well not really us because of the
horses--had to climb to get to the colony."
Migration Updates for Sanctuary Area Schools
All across Mexico,
the kids are back from Eastern break. in school after This spring, as the
butterflies fly over your homes, schools and cities, we're sending the news
back to the students in Mexico so they can track the migration too. Here’s
the latest update. Try practicing your Spanish!
de la migracion de la mariposa monarca para las escuelas de la region
de los santuarios
Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts!
Please take a few minutes to share your suggestions and comments in our
Year-End Evaluation Form below.
In the coming year, Journey North will be fundraising to secure increased
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comments will be a tremendous help. Thank you!
to Respond to Today's Monarch Challenge Question
Address an e-mail message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. In the
Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #16
3. In the
body of your message, answer the question above.
The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 30, 2004
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