Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hummingbirds and columbines

The first hummingbirds appear in the neighborhood at about the same time that the native columbine comes into bloom. I assume these little birds follow the blooming of the columbines northward, although I can’t rule out the possibility that we simply notice the hummingbirds for the first time as we’re admiring the columbines. We humans are definitely drawn to red things. Hummingbirds on the other hand show virtual catholicity in their choice of flowers to patronize. The only criterion seems to be that the blooms are full of readily accessible nectar. The cobalt blooms of Salvia guaranitica are as readily visited as those of scarlet Cuphea.

In other words, I think the reason we associate hummingbirds with red flowers is because we humans are apt to be looking at the red flowers when the hummers visit. But the hummers themselves visit any suitable flower without respect for color.
That's Aquilegia canadensis in the image above.

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