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Monarchs arrive on their annual pilgrimage

Abilene, the Big Country and Rolling Plains are rest stops each year for several migrating species of birds, including some that find the winters worth staying for, such as comorants and snow geese.
The most colorful passersby, however, are of the insect variety, especially the regal Monarch butterflies.
Once October’s sunny days, cool nights and relatively windless afternoons arrive in Abilene, so do the Monarchs, as they have this week. The Abilene Christian University campus is traditionally a popular hangout, especially the pecan trees on the old front lawn (now a back yard of sorts, thanks to Judge Ely and Teague boulevards) of the Hardin Administration Building.
Their stay is usually just a few days, and determined in large part to the next arriving cold front, which will drive them further south to Mexico for their primary wintering location.
According to the Journey North website, “a migration of historic proportions took place along the Atlantic coast last week, and the leading edge of the migration entered Kansas.” You can contribute you own sightings here to Journey North’s reporting on the annual movement of these delicate but hardy insects.
The distances traveled by Monarchs are utterly amazing, and they have reportedly been seen flying as high as 11,000 feet above earth.
In a land where autumn doesn’t always bring the same changing colors of leaves as seen in other places, we West Texans are annually blessed to have our own awe-inspiring show of reds, oranges and vermillion in the sky.  Enjoy it before our guests leave as quietly as they arrived.