The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge Is More Than Just Birds

monarch butterfly on the bear river migratory bird refuge

The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, nestled between the Wasatch and Promontory Mountains in far northern Utah plays host to a vast variety of creatures. One of those, the monarch butterfly, is a little known summer resident but can be easily found on the refuge in August and parts of September before they journey southward. The monarch utilizes wild sunflowers found on the refuge for their food source after laying eggs for the year on the showy milkweed which lines a few of the gravel roads and dikes.

monarch butterfly on the bear river migratory bird refuge
The monarch butterfly is summer visitor to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

I make it a point to visit the bird refuge as much as I can in late August through early September to try and capture these beauties perched on a bright yellow sunflower as it fuels up for its long trip to where it will spend the winter. Monarchs are typically thought of as being in mountainous or farm areas with wildflowers and showy milkweed, the sole host plant for the monarch butterfly. But to my amazement the refuge attracts a small but consistent population of monarchs each year to lay their eggs and feed for the migration.

monarch butterfly on the bear river migratory bird refuge
Wild sunflowers attract monarch butterflies on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge looking to nectar.

It is well worth the time to come visit the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge during this time of year to observe the monarch butterfly as well as the numerous other varieties of butterflies which call the refuge home for a short period of time. I see many different types of butterflies, many of them very small and inconspicuous to the casual observer, on each of my trips in search of the monarch but it is the monarch butterfly which compels me to come to the refuge this time of year when many of the birds are deep into their molt.

I have found a great fondness for butterflies, especially the monarch butterfly, this year. I have spent much time in search of butterflies to photograph and just to observe in their fascinating behaviors. The monarch butterfly will always have a special place for me from my time this year learning how to raise and release them back into the wild. Get out and enjoy butterflies and all else nature has to offer. Photography is a great way to appreciate nature but even if one doesn’t try and capture nature on film there is still a lot to observe and enjoy in the great outdoors.

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