Saturday, March 7, 2009

First Butterfly--Mourning Cloak

About a week ago, I hurt my back splitting wood so I haven't gotten out like I should. The temperature rose to 80 this afternoon so I couldn't resist going for a walk in the woods. I walked so slowly, my dog Kookie quickly got bored and ran way ahead of me. This turned out to be a blessing because I was able to see and hear more birds than usual. For example, a group of purple finches was feasting on some flowers or buds on a tree.

As I slowly made my way up the hill, I spotted my first butterfly of spring. I could see it had a beige or yellowish border on the otherwise brown wings as it was flying in the strong breeze. It finally landed on a Spicebush branch where I could get a closer look.

Mourning Cloak (March 7, 2009)

The Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antipoa, is a member of the Brushfoot Family which includes Anglewings and Tortoiseshells. At first, I thought it might have emerged from a chrysalis today because it was so warm. On the contrary, my guide reports that this butterfly, like the Monarch, migrates to the south for the wintertime. Unlike the Monarchs which winter in Mexico, not much is known about the Mourning Cloak's migration movements. So, perhaps my first spring butterfly came up from the south or had overwintered in our woods. Either way, I was happy to get a glimpse of him today.

Slow down and watch for surprises will be my new motto.


  1. WOW! What a Beautiful butterfly! I was out a LOT today but didn't see any....but the birds were really active.

  2. How beautiful it is! I know how exciting it is to see the first one of the year. I haven't seen one yet though. Great picture, hope your back is better!

  3. Love my first butterfly of the year . . . . Mourning Cloaks are normally my first or second!

  4. There are few more welcome signs of spring than the first butterfly. Hope the back is normal again soon.

  5. Love the photo and information...
    today i was running around chasing butterflys to photograph...
    Each time I went to shoot ...they would flutter away...needless to say I have no photos for my effort but maybe have lost half a pound.

  6. Kerri--thanks for the note. Yes, the birds are singing, making it sound like spring already. agree. I didn't expect to see a butterfly on Saturday.

    mon@rch--I don't recall what my other first butterflies are but I guess it makes sense that it would be one of the hibernating or migrating ones.

    NCmountainwoman--yes, butterflies are exciting. My back's better now my legs are sore from walking (aging is a bummer).

    dAwN--yeah, those butterflies are too fast this time of year.

  7. Seems like you know a lot of butterflies :) this one is beautiful.