This past weekend we ventured out in the 98 degree hot and humid Philadelphia weather to our local wildlife refuge, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge to do some birding.

The first thing I noticed was that all but one straggling Tree Swallow were already gone for the season. The Tree Swallows are the first migrants to arrive in the spring, staking out nest boxes in early March. And they are among the first migrants to head south to their wintering home in Mexico.

Now, there were hundreds of Barn Swallows swooping above the impoundment in search of insects.

But what fascinated me the most was one lone Monarch Butterfly nectaring at the thistle. I realized this was the first Monarch I had seen in Pennsylvania this season, and that is very late to be seeing my first Monarch.

There should have been hundreds of them at the refuge, and I should have seen many Monarch butterflies in my own wildlife garden much earlier this spring.

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Ecosystem Gardening
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