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2023 Monarch Tagging: Detections Continue to Inform Migration Pathways

2023 Monarch Tagging: Detections Continue to Inform Migration Pathways

(by Diane De Luca)

Information has continued to trickle in from southern Motus towers since we shared the known detections of our tagged Monarchs in the October 2023 eNews. In 2023, NH Audubon placed 50 nanotags on Monarchs migrating along the coast and inland through Concord. The 50 nanotags that were deployed this year helped to build on the knowledge gained from 59 nanotags that were deployed on Monarchs in 2022.

Tagged monarchs nectaring on goldenrod in Thomas Field.

Where and when our tagged Monarchs are picked up by a Motus tower will help to further our learning about Monarch migration. We are excited to share that to date, 20 of our tagged Monarchs have been picked up by towers as they continued their migration. All tell a story that we can use to inform our knowledge of migration and potential conservation efforts.

Fourteen of 27 tagged Monarchs that were released at the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge have been detected at other Motus towers. Six of the 23 tagged Monarchs released at the McLane Center in Concord have also had returns from other towers. This represents a 40% return rate overall, with a 52% detection rate from the coastal migrants! More than that, the flight patterns and distances are truly impressive.

The distances traveled by our tagged Monarchs is remarkable, and we know this is only part of the journey. Three of the Monarchs were detected by a tower at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland, more than 500 miles from the NH coast. One of our tagged Monarchs was detected by a tower at East River Mountain, a mountain ridge that borders Virginia and West Virginia. To date, this is the longest confirmed flight of close to 850 miles! Along with the impressive flights, the 2023 returns are giving us a glimpse into the importance of location. We were blown away to see our 2023 tagged Monarchs following some of the same routes as the 2022 cohort. Tagged Monarchs being picked up at the same locations in two consecutive years, is truly eye opening and has the power to help define Monarch conservation.

Additional details of our tagged monarch migration flights can be found in our Winter 2023 Afield. Become a member to enjoy this content and many more benefits!