Butterflies feed on lots of different plants, but each species need a particular plant or group of plants on which to lay their eggs. Monarch butterflies need Milkweed (Asclepias species) for reproduction, and these lovely indigenous flowers are in decline – between agricultural practices, roadside chemical sprays, and everything else that puts native species in decline, milkweed species, like many other plants that support native wildlife, are in trouble.
I wanted to take just a quick minute to assemble some resources and links that will help you gather all the necessary info on this topic, and the exciting movement happening in backyard gardens to protect the gorgeous, famous butterfly we call the Monarch.
For life that must survive low temperatures and harsh weather in the Northern Hemisphere, there are three major routes to success. Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages; a balance must be found between calorie intake and calorie expenditure. All groups of living things seem to use a good mix of each survival tactic, bringing their own special adaptations to the table. Read on for a quick look at how the Northern Hemisphere survives winter!
Maybe you all aren’t TOTALLY aware of how much I love hummingbirds. “A lot” doesn’t begin to cover it. On a recent camping trip to the Oregon Coast (oh yes, it was cold and wet), the moment I stepped out of the car and approached my carefully chosen campsite, I heard the telltale buzzing of two tiny birds. I didn’t get to lay my eyes on them, and the pair flitted about for a mere second before flying off to explore other campsite options. Like me, I’m sure they chose site H27 for its looming trees, moss-covered stones, and an appropriate distance away from everyone else at the campground.
For most of my friends, hearing hummingbirds is a no-big-deal moment. For me, particularly the first time I hear them for the year, my heart fills up so big I sometimes get a little embarrassed if I’m with company. I was ecstatic. I almost offered to purchase the campground but realized I’m not yet wealthy enough to horde such a beautiful place. But one day. One day.
All that being said, I at least have digital maps to show me where the hummingbirds are hanging out. If you haven’t seen these yet, here are migration maps for my two favorite species: the Ruby-Throated and the Rufous. By clicking on the image below, you’ll be taken to the Learner.org migration maps – the two species are hyperlinked beneath the main title above the map.
My top favorite site for bird information – allaboutbirds.org, maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – has this to say about the Rufous’ annual migration:
“The Rufous Hummingbird makes one of the longest migratory journeys of any bird in the world, as measured by body size. At just over 3 inches long, its roughly 3,900-mile movement (one-way) from Alaska to Mexico is equivalent to 78,470,000 body lengths. In comparison, the 13-inch-long Arctic Tern’s one-way flight of about 11,185 mi is only 51,430,000 body lengths. (AAB)”
Nearly 4,000 miles one way! And besides that, the Rufous is well-known for being the feistiest of all the hummingbirds, bold enough to chase even small mammals away from its territory. All that energy from the nectar of flowers and some insect protein? Outstanding.
Bookmark these maps and check back periodically – it’s fun to see where the birds end up every couple of weeks. Enjoy!