I skipped outside one gorgeous September day to collect some Calendula flowers to dry. Over by Ye Old Stump, I noticed a Monarch butterfly on the ground, fluttering about with a broken wing. Maybe a young bird had tried to eat him, but thought better of it and spit him out, as Monarchs are distasteful and poisonous to birds.
Monarchs reproduce on Milkweed plants and migrate 2,500 miles to Mexico and southern California where they overwinter for 6-8 months. They reproduce on the east and west coast of the US. White spots on the body of the butterfly and their bright orange color warn birds of their toxicity. The Viceroy butterfly, which is the Monarchs look-alike, has a semi circular black band on the bottom wings, its only differentiating characteristic from a true monarch (see slideshow for photo).
I felt an immediate connection with this Monarch trying to go south, I had to help. As he was flopping around on the ground, his wings were becoming more and more battered in his attempts to fly. My initial thought was to cut the broken wing off. It was hanging by a thread, and a hindrance to movement as it flopped back and forth rubbing more and more of the magic dust off his wings. I ran and got my sewing scissors. As I attempted to get close the broken wing with the sharp intention, the butterfly flapped even more vigorously. Several attempts later, I realized he was not going to let me near the wing with the scissors. I carefully scooped him up in my hands and brought him inside. With this, he was very compliant and ceased flopping.