A Tale of Two City Butterflies
Speaker: Liam O’Brien

Wednesday, September 30, 7:30 pm
Location: Garden Room, Orinda Public Library (directions below)

Known for his conservation work with two of San Francisco’s smallest butterflies, the Green Hairstreak and the endangered Mission Blue, local lepidopterist Liam O’Brien will focus this evening’s presentation on two of our area’s largest butterflies: the Western Tiger Swallowtail and the much-celebrated Monarch. Come learn how behavioral adaptations to the urban environment have pushed these species into new modes of survival. In the shadow of the Xerces Blue—the first butterfly extirpated from the earth due to human development in San Francisco—Liam will propose new ideas on how to improve our legacy with these fascinating and enthralling creatures.

Liam O’Brien was working in ACT’s production of “Angels in America” in the late 1990s when a Western Tiger Swallowtail flew into his yard, captured his attention, and changed his life. Inspired by that butterfly, he has surveyed all of San Francisco County and much of the greater Bay Area to see what remains of our region’s breeding butterfly species. He founded the Green Hairstreak Project to create a habitat corridor for the Green Hairstreak in San Francisco, participated in the effort to restore the Mission Blue butterfly to Twin Peaks, and created the Tigers on Market Street project to inform San Francisco planning decisions about butterfly habitat on that thoroughfare. Liam is also a talented painter and illustrator: His artwork can be seen on interpretive nature signs on many San Francisco Recreation and Parks trails and in the 2012 book The Butterflies of the Presidio (text by Matthew Zlatunich). He received Bay Nature’s Local Hero Award for Environmental Education in 2014.
East Bay CNPS membership meetings are free of charge and open to everyone. This month’s meeting takes place in the Garden Room of the Orinda Public Library at 24 Orinda Way (in Orinda Village). The Garden Room is on the second floor of the building, accessible by stairs or an elevator. The Garden Room opens at 7 pm; the meeting begins at 7:30 pm. Email sr0433@yahoo.com or call 510-496-6016 if you have questions.

Directions to Orinda Public Library at 24 Orinda Way:

From the west, take Hwy 24 to the Orinda/Moraga exit. At the end of the off ramp, turn left on Camino Pablo (toward Orinda Village), right on Santa Maria Way (the signal after the BART station and freeway entrance), and left on Orinda Way.
From the east, take Hwy 24 to the Orinda exit. Follow the ramp to Orinda Village. Turn right on Santa Maria way (the first signal) and left on Orinda Way.
Once on Orinda Way, go 1 short block to the parking lot on the southeast side of the two-story building on your right. There is additional free parking beneath the building as well as on the street.

From BART (4 blocks): Exit the Orinda station, turn right and cross a pedestrian bridge, then cross a second pedestrian bridge on the left. Go 1 short block on the sidewalk to the third pedestrian bridge. Go 2 blocks on Orinda Way to the Orinda Library.

Next meeting: October 28, 7:30 pm
Stephen Sharnoff: California’s Wild Lichens (Garden Room, Orinda Public Library)


A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.

John Muir

There is that in the glance of a flower which may at times control the greatest of creation’s braggart lords.

John Muir

Self portrait by Liam O'Brien
Self portrait by Liam O’Brien