Monday, 1 September 2014

Monarchs and......well, other monarchs.

Monarchs and Sandhill Cranes
Grass lake, Cambridge, ON
1 September 2014

     The decline of the Monarch Danaus plexippus, emblematic of the miracle of migration, has been well documented over the past several years. I can recall times when I have seen trees literally festooned with them, as though the foliage had turned to orange, but recently it is rare to see even one.
     Thus, it was with great joy, that I saw two individuals this afternoon feeding on Milkweed sp., a plant upon which the Monarch is dependent for its entire existence.
     There was a strong breeze blowing and it was difficult to take pictures. It seemed that every time I depressed the button a frond would be blown in front of my subject, and the image would be ruined. I offer the best of what I was able to get; most shots were deleted.

     For North American readers of this blog, I would urge you all to plant milkweed in your gardens. Can you imagine what an entire subdivision of gardens with milkweed could do to help spur the recovery of this iconic butterfly?

     My other "monarch" is the regal, Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis. With its stately bearing and graceful ways royalty comes easily to mind.
     This family was in a grassy area close to a farmer's barn and it left me wondering whether perhaps the farmer had been feeding them corn, so relaxed were they in close proximity to human settlement.

Adult and young

Adult relaxing

Adult and young
     The population of Sandhill Cranes is now well established in this part of Waterloo County and it is always an unmitigated delight to see them.

The whole family

Hatch year bird


  1. Lovely to see your "Monarchs" It's wonderful how a little thought for wildlife can really help them, and without too radical a change for humans!

  2. I imagined that Monarch's would be quite plentiful in your area. It perhaps goes to show that watching TV programmes that show hordes of them covering the landscape can be misleading and damaging to understanding the species real status.
    I saw them on Fuerteventura where they apparently breed but I don't know anything of their status there and whether they are still migratory.

  3. Hello David,
    Beautiful series of photos, the monarch butterfly is not here.
    Photo 2 and 7 are my favorite.

  4. What a brilliant sight to see,superb post.

  5. Fantastic photos of the butterfly and the birds. Amazing !
    Best regards, Synnöve

  6. That's a truly 'royal' pair, David. A great post with some super images.

    So sorry to hear of the decline of the Monarch butterfly - such an iconic species. The Milkweed plant looks to be quite attractive. Is the plant on the decline and, if so, are the reasons known? In UK, the Monarch was known as the Milkweed when I was a kid.

    I've just added Sandhill Crane to my ever-expanding wish list!

    Best wishes to you both from UK

    1. Hi Richard: Milkweed is not endangered. It has simply been eradicated in many area for agricultural efficiency and in some jurisdictions it is classified as a noxious weed. Miriam and I have planted some in our back yard, but it's an isolated attempt in suburbia.

  7. It is so sad that such an iconic butterfly would decline in such a dramatic way.
    As I tread your first words I was hoping you'd show us a "butterfly tree".
    Yet your 2 specimens are gorgeous, and do I know how difficult it is to take close-up pics on a windy day.
    We do have Milkweed here, but no monarchs. I will see another sub-species in Australia though...
    The cranes are superb, it must be a wonderful treat to be able to approach them that close!
    Hugs from your froggy friends!! ;-)

  8. Amazing! Wonderful photos Best regards.

  9. You captured lovely detail in your monarch photos, David. And how neat to see a juvenile Sandhill Crane all relaxed with its parents!

  10. In these pictures of the cranes, I nevertheless slightly jealous of David.
    I see cranes only in zoos and never in the wild. These cranes yours too have a nice red cap:-)
    Your butterfly is beautifully captured with a gorgeous drawing.

  11. This butterfly looks like stained glass. beautiful photos. I greet from Poland.