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Mourning Cloak Butterfly

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I was out for a walk recently when I thought I saw a small bird flying in the distance. Its wings were a purple-ish brown color with buttery yellow edges that were bordered by bright blue spots. This bird seemed like it was in no particular rush to be anywhere—it was just flying around aimlessly. No native bird I could think of had coloring like this, and birds are unlikely to fly without direction. It was then that I realized I wasn’t looking at a small bird at all—I was instead watching the flight of a large mourning cloak butterfly. The arrival of mourning cloak butterflies in our region is one of the ways that our natural world tells us that spring time is here to stay.

W. Brooks Paternotte took the helm of Irvine Nature Center as executive director in July 2013 and immediately began building on the strong 35-year foundation. Brooks is a Baltimore native who was a teacher, coach, advisor, dean and Head of the Middle School during his 13 years at Boys’ Latin School in Baltimore. He is also an instructor and ambassador of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and is a Leave No Trace Master, as well as an avid outdoorsman and a features writer for FlyLife Magazine.