Ontario: An Uplifting Experience
On our way back I got a good look over the residential areas of Niagara Falls and the famous Whirlpool further downstream in the Niagara River. The view extended towards the Niagara Escarpment and far across Lake Ontario. I could even see Toronto’s CN Tower! Safely Rene brought our bladed flying machine back and we touched down on the heated helipad. Ruedi was waiting with a framed photo of my helicopter adventure which would allow me to remember these exciting moments for a long time.
The Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory
As my schedule was rather packed, I had to say goodbye to Rene, Ruedi and the team at Niagara Helicopters and race off to cover my next Niagara Falls attraction, which also had to do with flying. Except this time we were not dealing with man-made machines, but with delicate and colourful winged creatures – butterflies. I drove ten minutes up the road on the Niagara Parkway to the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, which is located on the grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens & the School of Horticulture.
Greetings from an oversized metal butterfly
A modern glass-enclosed pavilion opened in 1996 holds a gift shop and a climate controlled tropical biotope that holds more than 2000 butterflies. On this cold winter day, a little reprieve inside a warm and colourful sanctuary like this was just what the doctor ordered. A 7-minute video provides an introduction to the butterflies and plants housed in the Conservatory.
After taking off my jacket I walked inside the conservatory and was immediately enchanted by the fluttering brightly coloured creatures that were coming at me from all angles. Some of the roughly 45 butterfly species on display include the brownish Magnificent Owl, the Blue Morpho (featuring an almost neon blue wing surface), the orange and black Queen, the yellow and black Zebra Longwing, and the intricately patterned red, orange and black Red Lacewing.
A brilliantly coloured Blue Morpho
180 metres of walkways snake through the conservatory, surrounded by an impressive tropical forest. Butterflies flutter all over the place, sit on the glass windows, on the walls and on several feeding stations that feature colourful plates with oranges on them. In fascination I watched some of the butterflies eat, who actually do not use a chewing mouth, but rather a structure that is reminiscent of a sucking straw which allows them to ingest nectar, pollen and fruit juices.
Various butterfly species at a feeding station