the birds and the bees

In late September, there are far fewer flowers for the bees and birds to visit — the bees to collect those last remaining dregs of pollen and nectar before the snow flies, and the birds to harvest what seed might still be remaining in flowers that bloomed more than two months ago.

Giant Hyssop is a favorite of the bumblebees these days; its profuse blooms always attract a variety of pollinators, especially when the sunshine can get through the clouds to warm up the air a little.

bumblebees-on-giant-hyssop

The bumblebees generally start at the bottom of the flower head and spiral around upward walking over some flowers, poking their antennae into others, and every now and then inserting their entire head into a particular flower to glean whatever nectar lies at the bottom of the floral tube.

bumblebees-on-giant-hyssop

When the bee gets to the top of the raceme, it makes a short flight over to the next one, beginning again at the bottom and working its way up to the top.  

Flower stalks already being worked by one bee seem to be off-limits; there would probably be little nectar left in the flowers in that case.  But every so often, a couple of bees try working the same flower patch…

bumblebees-on-giant-hyssop

Looks like better foraging on the hyssop flowers than this very attractive but apparently unrewarding purple flower that I planted but have no idea what it is.

bumblebees-on-giant-hyssop-

bumblebees-on-giant-hyssop-

oops, this one is taken

bumblebees-on-giant-hyssop-

This isn’t a tandem bumblebee hook-up; the one on top (right side up) is actually flying toward the camera, away from the bee that was originally foraging on that stem.

Overlooking this busy bumblebee activity was a mixed flock of Goldfinches, House Finches, and White-throated Sparrows, all of which were much more interested in the seeds left in the wildflower garden than the flowers there.

house-finch-eating-lilac-seeds-

Their bright red color has faded to a rosy hue with the fall feather molt. This little male spent several minutes picking out lilac seeds from dried up remnants of flower clusters.

house-finch-eating-lilac-seeds

juvenile-white-throated-sparrow-

A juvenile White-throated Sparrow watched what the House Finches were eating, but didn’t seem interested.

3 thoughts on “the birds and the bees

  1. Thanks for all your beautiful photos and interesting information. The purple flower you were wondering might be Nigella or Love-in -a Mist.

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