Monday, September 24, 2007

Rare photo of sleeping monarch [non-mammalian]

Last night Brad Klein, an avid Central Park naturalist, sent me the picture to the left and a fascinating e-mail:

Where do Monarch butterflies spend the night, Marie?

I knew from reading Robert Pyle's monarch book (years ago!) that they don't migrate by night, but find a convenient leaf or twig around sunset, and settle in. But I've only seen it twice, both times during the Fall migration.

We spent the afternoon at the Hook mountain hawk watch, and saw 100+++ monarchs over the course of the day. At home, we sat down to dinner on our terrace facing south down Amsterdam Ave. We were watching the monarchs go by. Maybe 25 over the course of an hour or so. One drifted down in lazy circles and landed on a shrubby plant overhanging the terrace. It yawned mightily and stretched its tired wings, and I said to Danielle [Brad's wife] 'I think that one is going to spend the night here.' It really did look tired somehow, although I can't say exactly why.

The sun set, and the waxing gibbous moon rose, and sure enough, our guest is out there this minute resting up for tomorrow's leg of her journey toward Mexico.

This morning Brad sent an early morning e-mail:

To our great surprise, Sleepy fluttered off at 6:58 this morning. It was about 63 degrees F.

We had thought s/he would wait until a bit of direct sunlight fell on her perch, but no. An early departure, SW, toward the Hudson R.