While this is going on in my kitchen...
...this happened just three miles away.
We're smack in the middle of peak monarch migration through our area here in northwest Ohio. Several hundred of them stopped to rest and stay warm through the night at the home of Steve and Deb Plummer, near Latty, on Monday.
Normally, during the day, migrating monarchs are in the air en route to their wintering grounds in central Mexico and will travel 25-30 miles per day. But flight isn't particularly efficient or even possible when the temperatures are below a certain level. (Generally, 50°F.) Monday struggled to reach 58° here and coupled with the rain, these smart flyers decided to stay put.
Deb had contacted our local newspaper, the Paulding Progress, for which I write a weekly gardening column, to let them know about the visitors. My editor then contacted me to see if I could go snap a photo or two for this week's paper. I ran out the door.
We have seen overnight roosts here three times before (2003, 2007, and 2011), with two of those times being right here in our backyard at Our Little Acre. But we've never seen so many. We're going to venture a guess at possibly as many as 500 monarchs were traveling in this caravan.
They're mostly silent, even with several testing the prospect of moving on. Once in awhile, we could hear the gently flutter of their wings. Romie remarked that seeing them draped on the trees like this reminded him of photos we've seen of them as they are in winter diapause in the oyamel fir forests of central Mexico.
It's a dream that I will likely never realize, to visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve near Angangueo, Mexico, during winter, to see them in all their miraculous glory. But you never know.