Fall Migration Observation Methods
Count Monarchs Flying Overhead
Go outside, lie down on your back, and simply look up at the sky!
Count Monarchs at a Nectar Source
Your own butterfly garden is a wonderful place to conduct a migration study. Monarchs must find nectar all along their migration route, and you can draw them into your own backyard. Plant a butterfly garden that's rich with species that bloom (and produce nectar) in the fall.
You may find monarchs nectaring in large numbers--in a field of alfalfa, clover, a native prairie, or in roadside wildflowers, for example. Count the number of monarchs in a small quadrant. Then estimate the number of such quadrants in the full field, and multiply for an estimate of totals.
Count Monarchs at an Overnight Roost (Aggregation)
Count Monarchs as You Travel Along the Road
You can count monarchs each day as you ride to school, on a daily walk, or even on horseback, as Ms. Hartinger of Aurora, SD describes. Most important: Conduct your study at the same time each day, for the same period of time, so you can compare daily changes.
Two annual scientific studies are underway again this fall that use the "road census" method. These projects are collecting fascinating and useful data. By comparing the yearly averages, the data are an indicator of the fall monarch population size. Road counts are made each day at the same time of day. Read about how these studies are done, and then design a protocol for your own study: