Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mourning Cloak

Sometimes you have to pay attention to what you're doing. This afternoon while continuing to go about the yard getting it ready for winter (a task that is not done in one day), I carried Lily, Cherub, Angel, and the Chinese Fortune Ball into the garage. They will not last the frosts and winds of our winters unprotected outdoors; they've got to put into hiding in the garage.

I am sorry to report that I snapped Lily's head off while putting her on a shelf. Oh, dear. I'll have to glue her head back on next spring.

Once back in the yard, I threw junk into the garbage, carried our lovebird Sydney's outdoor cage into the garage, picked up gardening tools, and collected flower pots lying here and there.

Then, I saw the old wooden bird's nest that I once found in the middle of the bush while blueberry picking with my mom a number of summers ago. It was lying in an awkward place, tossed there by my son when he was putting in rubber patio tiles (made from recycled tires).

"This stupid thing," I said. "What's it doing here?" I threw it under the juniper.

When it landed, a little flutter in the opening caught my eye. "Geez," I thought, "it's full of old leaves and spider webs; I should just throw it out." As I reached under the tree for it, I noticed blue-tipped brown wings opening and closing slowly. I looked a little closer and saw a mourning cloak butterfly hiding inside.

Mourning cloak butterflies overwinter by finding a place away from wind and danger and falling into cryo-preservation. As almost any safe place "will do as a hibernaculum (an overwintering den)," it seems this mourning cloak finds the shelter of the old bird's nest a perfect place to fall into a deep freeze for the winter. 


Merche Pallarés said...

I love your botanical/Canadian winter animal protection stories!! Hugs, M.

troutbirder said...

Fascinating. I neveer imagined they could survive using antifreeze that far north...:)