Whole days go by now between hummingbird sightings and I just stood in the Display Garden with my camera poised for a good 15 minutes waiting to catch a glimpse of a monarch. They’re few and far between now. But just this morning I read a news blurb in the local paper that thousands of monarchs en route to Mexico stopped for a rest on Goosewing beach in Little Compton (click here to see the picture). If only they had taken a slight detour westward to visit us… I’m not sure if the monarchs we’re still seeing have come down from the North or if they have just been (re)born here — there are still plenty of caterpillars on the milkweed and butterfly weed plants. But I do know (because I looked it up like I have to every year) that these butterflies are the 4th generation great-grandchildren of the butterflies that began traveling up from Mexico last spring. Unlike their parents, grandparents and greats who only live 2-6 weeks as butterflies, these guys are made of tougher stuff. They’ll live long enough (up to 8 months) to make the journey back to Mexico, hibernate for the winter and mate in spring to circle the cycle back northward again. Wish them luck.

The hummingbirds we’re still seeing (which I can never seem to get a photo of) are making their way down from the North and stopping just long enough to tank up during their long journey to Central America. From what I understand, these travelers should be females and youth because the (older) males fly on ahead. I know some people took their feeders down during those few days when it seemed like our local birds disappeared for good, but if you leave it up – or leave plenty of late blooming salvias, porterweed (Stachytarpheta spp.), honeysuckle, fuchsias, and nicotiana in the garden, you’ll get on the migrant’s list of favorite roadside diners and those birds will return year after year. (Their average lifespan is estimated to be 3-4 years, which is pretty incredible considering their tiny hearts beat up to 1200 times per minute.)  And then don’t forget to put the feeder back out again in April/May.

Are you still seeing hummingbirds and monarchs in your garden?

4 thoughts on “Migrations

  1. Saturday there were about a half dozen hummers darting around the nursery, but today I didn’t see a one. Monarchs are still fluttering about.

    Kathy, I wonder if the hummers are finally gone. I haven’t spotted one in a couple of days now… And I wouldn’t have had to wait quite as long yesterday to get my shot of the monarchs – but the sun was shining. -kris

  2. All I can say is Wow! This blogging site is wonderful! Did you take the shots for this blog? It is good to come across others that likes things such as this. Because I am a flower designer I just find this kind of thing very interesting. May I backlink back here from my blog site? Many thanks for posting.

    Thanks, Clementine! -kris

  3. I haven’t seen the hummers in a while but I have seen monarchs every day when it is warm. A very slight browning on the basil from the kiss of frost. Warmer next week though.

    Layanee, It’s hard to believe we live in the same state! We’ve had chilly nights but nothing that would give the kiss of frost. Wonder if it will be earlier this year though… -kris

  4. Took my feeder down Sept 5 before taking a long trip out to Colorado, and I had cut back and deadheaded all of the hummingbirds favorite plants, salvias, honeysuclkles, so as to prolong flowering. The annual Cardinal Vine seems to be a real winner in attracting them,and although it doesn’t flower until late summer,it is so easy to grow from seed. Upon returning on September18,I filled and put out my feeder again, but….no sign of them after watching for another week. Although sad to acknowledge them as gone for another season, I reluctantly took down the feeder as it was getting cloudy,washed it out and put it away…..Well, just yesterday my husband spotted a hummingbird at our John Clayton honeysuckle,so ,
    of course I ran to get out my feeder and make some food! Kris, I bet you are exactly right in saying that these are passersby from further north! What an enchanting thought! Saw Magic in the Air ,the PBS film about the amazing little creatures .My whole garden is for the birds, especially the tiniest,mightiest ones!

    Jean, that’s very cool. And it’s especially cool that your garden draws them even without a feeder! I haven’t seen any now for almost a week. They might really be gone this time… -kris

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