Who doesn’t need a shot of color during the mid-winter blah outdoor landscape of white, brown, and gray? After a monotonous week of fog and gray weather, it was time for a visit to the indoor tropical room of Como Conservatory in St. Paul, MN. Each time I go I find a few new species that have taken up residence there.
Tag Archives: Como Conservatory
A splash of color
Needing some color to brighten up the dull winter shades of gray here, I stopped by the Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul. Now if only this amazing collection of orchids and other blooms was attached to my house…
Some orchids flower only once or twice a year, so they must make the most of the time the flowers are viable to insure that they get pollinated. They entice their pollinators to visit with a variety of traps and lures: some plants use fragrances or nectar to attract insects; others use color and nectar to attract birds; still others mimic female insects that males seek to mate with. Some species coat the landing pad with wax that causes insect visitors to fall into a watery pool formed by one petal; the only way out of the pool is, of course, to squeeze through an opening at one end of the pool where the pollinia (pollen sacs) are then deposited on the insect’s back. Such clever strategies!
The end result is a huge variety of shapes, colors, and colorful designs that delight the human eye as well as the potential pollinators.
It’s almost the end of March and still our landscape remains white, gray, and brown, with occasional additions of more white. Bored with looking at my white backyard, I went to the Como Park Conservatory for a dose of much needed warmth and color, and an opportunity to try out a new macro lens that has been sitting in its box since Christmas.
This post is for those of you still suffering from exposure to excessive white-ness in your outdoor landscapes.
On a trip to the Como Conservatory earlier this month, I photographed some of the tanagers going about their daily routines. These birds might be fooled into thinking it is time to breed in this indoor tropical jungle room because there was a lot of singing and a lot of aggression going on within and between species. The two most common species were Saffron finches (actually tanagers with shorter finch-like bills) and Blue-gray tanagers. Both species are native to northern South America, especially the Amazon basin, and both are fairly tolerant of human habitation and can be found near homes that provide bird (fruit) feeders.
Many of the Blue-gray Tanagers were singing and often flew or pecked at other individuals that ventured near them.
A couple of the Saffron finches foraged together (perhaps a mated pair?).
But there was at least one altercation in the bushes in which one of the Saffron Finches caught another one by its wing, shook it up, and wouldn’t let go for several seconds.
Meanwhile the Bananaquit minded its own business, checking out the bananas for a ripe morsel.
And that’s life in the tropical paradise…of Como Conservatory.
Black and blue beauties
A favorite activity to entertain the California grandkids is a visit to the indoor tropics at Como Conservatory, where the warmth and humidity feel great after numbing toes and fingers on the long walk from the parking lot.
Even on a clear, sunny day, the light in this indoor jungle room is rather weak, and dark objects are particularly hard to photograph. The kids got up-close looks at two spectacular black-and-blue beauties.
It seems to be mis-named, but there are many color variants of this species, and its latin name, Dendrobates auratus, implies that there are golden-brown and black forms as well as green and black, or blue and black. They are found all over Central and Northern South America in rain forest. This is one of the larger poison dart frogs, probably measuring about two inches in length.
Standing up from the rock crevice where I found the frog, I almost hit my head on the branch where this bird was sitting.
Wishing to avoid me, he immediately flew off and landed on another big branch. I could just barely see him against the dark background, but the camera lens had no trouble picking him (or her) out.
The White-tailed Trogon (Trogon chionurus) is native to the humid tropical forest in Panama and Colombia. I have seen this bird several times when I have visited this room, but never really paid attention to the striking iridescence of the feathers on its back and tail.
Trogons are fun to photograph because they don’t move around much and have such beautiful feathers and interesting poses. In the wild they are mainly fruit eaters, but also take whatever insects happen to cross their paths as they wait patiently on their branch perch.
More on the trip to the Como Conservatory jungle room later….
Indoor tropical wonderland
It’s cloudy and snowing again. I needed a place to try out my new camera lens (Tamron 18-270 zoom), so I visited the Como Conservatory this afternoon for a much-needed infusion of green-ness. It’s warm, humid, and colorful there, just what you need in the middle of winter.
Of course, the sunken garden full of poinsettia plants is what most people come for.
The fern room was especially green and moist today.
Como Conservatory has an entire room full of orchids, but few of them are in bloom right now.
Plants are such great photo subjects — they don’t move just when you’re ready to shoot. But the light was dim in the conservatory today, and it wasn’t really a fair test of the lens.