Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A first for the season

The change in the weather this week has brought a flurry of migrants to my garden.  Most of them have had feathers like this female Rufous Hummingbird, a first for my yard who has brought quite a lot of excitement for one backyard birder.

Female Rufous Hummingbird at 'Texas Star' hibiscus.

But finally today, I had my first migrant of the season of quite another kind.  At about the middle of the day, the very first Monarch butterfly of the fall migration came to rest on a garlic chive blossom in my backyard.  He sat there sipping for some time as I watched.  Then I headed into the house to get the camera to try to record the event.  Of course, by the time I got back outside, he had moved on, but I was finally able to chase him down.

  You can tell he's a male by the two black spots in the middle of his hindwings.

Since he's a male, there won't be any eggs left behind from this visitor, but I'm hoping he is the harbinger of more of the brightly-colored fliers to come.  Soon, perhaps, there will be a female who will be happy for all the milkweed that is growing rampantly in my garden.  And I will be happy to welcome her and any eggs she chooses to leave with me.  

Meantime, today's visitor did not tarry long.  Soon, I saw him winging south once again, determined to make his way to the mountains of Mexico.  Fair weather and safe travel to him and all the millions of his brothers and sisters to come. 


  1. Gorgeous photo! How much fun to have a Rufous in fall migration! We've had them here in dead of winter only, and only the juveniles. This is a weird year for migrations, I think. Our hummingbird migrations have been heavy/light/heavy again and out of sync with past timing. I'm sure it's the drought, probably compounded by the heat.

    Thanks for your comment at Hill Country Mysteries about your oriole sighting! Another friend in Austin had her first sighting too. Quite a distance you and us, really makes the oriole sightings seem like an irruption.

  2. PS Saw our first monarch this week too. There were almost NO queens this summer, same with virtually every other species we see. So I was glad to see the monarch and hope he'll find more gardens on his way south.

  3. I've been very excited by all the colorful birds passing through this week. The first oriole was a real standout. I agree it has been a very unusual year for migration. Well, it's been an unusual year for most everything, hasn't it, Kathleen?

    I've not have any Queens either and normally there are quite a few at this time of year. And only the one Monarch so far. I'm quite sure the drought and heat have affected the butterflies.