Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hummingbirds and Gordonia

There are a couple of Gordonia lasianthus trees (Loblolly bay) outside my office window. They provide an excellent year-round perching spot for birds scouting out where to go next, so if I'm watching, I regularly see cardinals and mockingbirds, and occasionally a bluebird or a goldfinch passing by. They're slender trees, with a loose (almost gangly) habit, but have beautiful flowers in early summer.

Photo: Patrick McMillan
Standing at the phone this morning, I was surprised to see a female ruby-throated hummingbirds systematically visit a number of the open flowers.

Gordonia
, a member of the Tea family, has open flowers with lots of stamens, ideal for the bees that visit, but it's hardly the sort of flower that you'd expect a hummingbird to visit.

I couldn't tell without a hand lens if there was any nectar being produced (in addition to the obvious pollen reward), but perhaps the hummingbird was catching small insects that were in the flowers.

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