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September 24, 2011 / Leslie

Saturday Snapshot: Monarch Butterfly

Last Saturday I went for a walk in one of my favorite nature spots looking for migrant birds. I wanted to see some warblers, tiny little birds that pass through the Chicago area in the spring and fall. I did see a few but they would not pose for photos. More on that later.

As I was standing at the edge of the prairie watching a tree filled with goldfinches, I spotted a gorgeous monarch butterfly. She stayed on the same flower for several minutes. This must have been a very tasty flower because there were several bees buzzing around in there too.

As impossible as it sounds, this monarch will soon be migrating south to Mexico. Monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains will migrate to southern California. They can travel 2,500 miles and are the only butterflies that make such a long migration each year.


Now for that little warbler that I was observing. I don’t see this particular bird very often so I was determined to get a shot. They are fairly common in the eastern US and Canada in the summer and during migration they fly through the Midwest.

This is her on the left, a Black-and-white Warbler. She was creeping along a large branch high up in the tree, out of range of my camera. Eventually I got off a few shots, a little fuzzy but still identifiable. I’m now thinking about a longer zoom lens.


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.



Leave a Comment
  1. theresagreen / Sep 24 2011 3:46 am

    Beautiful butterflies – we don’t get Monarchs in the UK, but I live for most of the year in southern Spain and there are often a few there. I really like your blog and that you give attention to what’s around you. Birds can be frustrating to photograph, you’ll probably get a lot of OK images, then one day you’re both in the right place at the right time and you get the money shot!


  2. Lisa@ButteryBooks / Sep 24 2011 5:04 am

    Whoa…I didn’t realize they migrated so far. I highly recommend a long zoom lens…it opens up a whole new world!


  3. Trish / Sep 24 2011 5:19 am

    Butterflies are so impossibly delicate – it’s hard to believe what hardy little creatures they actually are.


  4. Natalie ~ Coffee and a Book Chick / Sep 24 2011 5:53 am

    That is an awesome shot – love the white on the edges of the wings.


  5. Louise / Sep 24 2011 5:59 am

    It’s extraordinary that something as fragile as a butterfly can migrate thousands of kilometres isn’t it? Even to know that small birds do it is astonishing. I understand and share your frustrations at photographing small birds. Such a preposterous thing to do. I’m just trying to learn really, but if someone suggested that a fun thing to do would be to take pictures of something that flits around mostly obscured in bushes, it wouldn’t sound so fun! And that’s what we’re trying to do. So well done for getting a recognisable warbler at all.


  6. Margaret @ BooksPlease / Sep 24 2011 6:20 am

    Such beautiful photos – such perfect definition.


  7. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea / Sep 24 2011 6:27 am

    The butterflies are gorgeous Leslie. As for the b/w warbler, I saw one of these the other day, and meant to look up what it was in the bird book – so thanks you. It was the first I had seen one here as well. (The yellow finches are now gone from here).


  8. Leeswammes / Sep 24 2011 7:17 am

    What a beautiful pictures of the butterfly. Nice colors too. The bird… yes, the picture isn’t great but he looks quite photogenic if you would get him from closer up.


  9. gautami tripathy / Sep 24 2011 7:24 am

    Beautiful pictures. I love butterflies. Don’t see them much nowadays..

    Here is my Saturday Snapshot post!


  10. Christine Rains / Sep 24 2011 7:26 am

    Gorgeous photos! That’s amazing about butterflies. You’d never guess with how fragile they are just are strong they are.


  11. Paulita / Sep 24 2011 7:48 am

    Your nature photos continue to amaze me. A longer lens! Soon we’ll be studying the mites that live on birds, and I bet you’ll be able to identify each one.


  12. laurelrainsnow / Sep 24 2011 8:16 am

    Gorgeous butterfly photos! The monarchs remind me of a children’s picture book I owned, after its author came to the library where I worked (back in the early sixties). It was called The Butterflies Come, by Leo Politi; it depicted monarchs as they migrated to Monterey, CA each year. He was a great artist.

    Thanks for sharing these photos.



  13. Jill / Sep 24 2011 9:25 am

    I love photos of butterflies. I get so frustrated with our camera because of the delay I often miss some of the best shots.


  14. Kay / Sep 24 2011 9:43 am

    Leslie, your photos are always so beautiful. Thanks for sharing the butterfly with us. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a monarch. Guess Texas is not in their flight path. LOL


  15. Alyce / Sep 24 2011 10:52 am

    Those butterfly photos are fantastic – so crisp and clear! And the butterfly is beautiful too. Someday I’m going to invest in a camera that has lenses that I can attach. 🙂 At this point I’m just thrilled that my little camera does most of the thinking for me.


  16. Lisa / Sep 24 2011 11:07 am

    That’s a terrific photo! How nice of her to hold still for you.

    My Saturday Snapshot


  17. Pooch / Sep 24 2011 12:55 pm

    Love the cute little warbler! Wonderful pix!



  18. Debbie Rodgers / Sep 24 2011 2:20 pm

    Leslie, I remember 30 years ago visiting Rondeau Park in southern Ontario, where I saw carpets of Monarchs, resting on their migration flight. I will never forget that marvelous sight!

    Rondeau & Point Pelee (a bit further west) are directly on the Monarchs’ migration path and provided a spot for them to rest up before crossing Lake Erie. I have no idea how the reduction in the number of Monarchs over the last three decades has affected this annual event.


  19. Mary / Sep 24 2011 2:24 pm

    Oh these are lovely!


  20. sadie / Sep 24 2011 2:44 pm

    Those are stunning pictures. Just amazing.


  21. Suko / Sep 24 2011 3:02 pm

    Beautiful pictures!


  22. Bev@My Reader's Block / Sep 24 2011 7:19 pm

    Oh, my goodness!! Those butterfly pictures are perfect.

    Here’s mine:


  23. Carol / Sep 24 2011 7:24 pm

    Those butterflies are gorgeous!


  24. samstillreading / Sep 25 2011 12:00 am

    What beautiful pictures – we sometimes see these around, but sadly not often enough!


  25. BermudaOnion / Sep 25 2011 7:50 pm

    Their wings look like stained glass.


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