Fall Migration Is Winding Down

November 24, 2021 by Team Journey North

This is our last Fall Migration News Update. The winter season is here. Thanks for following along and sharing your observations. Starting in December, regular updates from overwintering sites in Mexico and California begin and monitoring winter monarch activity in the Southeastern U.S. ramps up. Cheers to another great season!

Thirsty monarchs at El Rosario Sanctuary, Mexico. Photo by: Estela Romero

Thank You!

Another great fall migration season in the books! And what a hopeful season it has been with strong preliminary monarch numbers at overwintering sites in Mexico and California. Journey North volunteers have contributed over 33,400 reports (and counting) of monarchs and milkweed. Thank you for all your submissions and all you do on behalf of monarch monitoring. Your observations provide valuable information and paint a real-time picture of monarch migration. We hope these updates have provided you a sense of joy and wonder and we are grateful to be part of such a dedicated community.

The Leading Edge of Migration

Fall migration is winding down and the pace is slowing as more monarchs arrive at overwintering sites in Mexico and California. But Journey North volunteers are still observing migratory activity!

 Julie in New Orleans, LA: “Driving causeway from New Orleans to Mandeville, we saw only a few monarchs at first. Then for about 2/10th of a mile, there were hundreds of monarchs, all heading south. After the large group we continued to see a few monarchs along the way.” (11/22/2021)

Effie in Pismo Beach, CA: “Mature Monarch flying just above traffic on the road. Headed West.” (11/23/2021)

Letter From Estela Romero: Good Numbers at the Sanctuaries

Estela Romero shares encouraging news of good monarch numbers at El Rosario and Sierra Chincua Sanctuaries. More conclusions will be drawn once official counts take place later in the season. Estela writes, “My guide and I stood stunned at encountering this marvel. As if in a trance, my hands grabbed my camera to capture the image. We hardly wanted to blink for seeing such a colony only at the beginning of November, and just at the start of the season … It could take a couple of more weeks for all [monarchs] to arrive. At that time, a count will take place. We shall patiently await to make sure we are actually seeing a great season for monarchs at their overwintering home.”

Read more of Estela Romero’s Letter: Good Numbers at the Sanctuaries (English version)»

Leer más de la carta de Estela Romero: Buenos Números en los Santuarios (versión en Español)»

Letter From Ellen Sharp: First Visit to El Capulin

At Cerro Pelon Sanctuary, Ellen Sharp details a first visit of the season to one of Cerro Pelon’s three colonies. The journey was one of contrasting scenes: a healthy number of monarchs surrounded by pockets of deforestation. Ellen writes, “We passed through the decimation of the monarchs’ former roost in La Lagunita and ascended to a place people call El Capulin. Dark specks circled the skies above, pressed down by clouds. Then we reached the trees, a mix of pine and fir, blinking with orange. When I looked up, my heart soared to see so many monarchs filling the air and alighting on the trees. When I looked down, my heart sank. Even here, right next to the colony lay tumbled trees.”

Read more of Ellen Sharp’s Letter: First Visit to El Capulin»

Eastern Monarch Population

Eastern Monarch Fall 2021 Report #11

Migratory activity remained steady in northern Mexico as more monarchs drew closer to overwintering sites within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. There was still much movement along the Gulf Coast as monarchs hurried on their way. And along the Eastern Flyway, late travelers were spotted Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina. Will they make it to Mexico?

Read more of the Eastern Monarch Fall 2021 Report #11»

Western Monarch Population

Letter from Gail Morris: Western Monarch Fall 2021 Report #11

Out West, Gail Morris provides the latest updates from overwintering sites in California. Annual population counts are now taking place and anticipation is building. Gail writes, “The California monarch overwintering sites’ numbers are rising as monarchs gather in larger than expected numbers after last year’s population crash. The annual counts are now taking place and soon we should hear the official numbers for this season as a point of comparison to earlier years. At the same time, sightings of single monarchs continue in coastal California. The Arizona lower deserts are seeing more monarchs appear late in the season as well.”

Read more of Gail Morris’ Letter: Western Monarch Fall 2021 Report #11»

Winter Reporting

Monitor Overwintering Monarchs in Southeastern U.S.

Journey North is again excited to partner with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the University of Georgia, Monarchs Across Georgia, and an increasing number of partners to encourage people to report winter monarch sightings in the Southeastern U.S. from December through March. If you live in the Gulf states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida as well as Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, we want to hear from you.

Read the Press Release from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources: Public’s Help Needed in Reporting Wintering Monarchs»

Learn more about how to participate»