04 September 2017

Birdstrike survivor

This newly-eclosed male Monarch was nectaring in our garden yesterday when a presumably naive bird clipped off his wingtips in an attack.  We brought him back in to our screenporch overnight and let him solarize on a screen for the morning hours, but this afternoon he was unable to sustain flight.

I have seen elderly butterflies with greater % wing loss from wear and tear be able to fly reasonably well, but there may be some crucial mechanical disadvantage to losing the wingtips.


  1. In birds, it's the outer primary feathers (the 'wing tips') that provide the greatest lift. Large parrots can be rendered flightless by trimming only the outer 4-5 feathers on each side. I think it makes sense that the outer parts of the wing would provide the most force per movement in butterflies as well.

    Whether or not predators know that and seek it out is another question that I have no answer to!

  2. Surprisingly they can be "repaired" if you have the remains of other wings available. I've seen several videos that show how to patch them...

    1. Thanks, Spiv. I should have mentioned that. Here are two relevant pages -


  3. As a Kid i was walking home from school in september when I encountered a monarch on the roadside. it could not fly. i picked it up and took home. placed on mom's african violets. expecting it to be dead shortly. it wasn't. after a few days, we thought it should have some sustenance and started diluting honey into a spoon. the butterfly would perch on a fingertip and unfurl its proboscis into the honey and drink. then would sit on the flowers and gently move its wings in the sunshine. it lived through christmas as our "pet".


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...