More About Birds, Bulbs, and etc.

Joe Shaw
Sun, 01 Oct 2006 12:04:02 PDT
Hi Gang,

Living in the USA, I sometimes forget about the wonderful natural history in 
other parts of the world.  Myke wrote to me about sunbirds in his country in 
response to my note about hummingbirds.  And I went online and found that 
many birds around the world (e.g., lorikeets) enjoy nectar and fruit.  I 
used to "know" this but seem to have misplaced the knowledge along with some 
other information over they years.  Perhaps bulb-rich areas of the world 
provide more food for birds (through bulbs) than is the case here in Texas.

I know that aloes are not bird flowers in this part of the world (the birds 
don't seem to know how to use them), but Jim M. pointed out that Kniphophia, 
lilies, and tuberoses can be good nectar sources for birds.  I get a lot of 
"action" with Callistemon and some rainlilies.  The local native rainlily 
has a white, upright flower and a long nectar tube; I think it might be a 
moth flower rather than a bird flower; I think that hummingbirds like 
flowers that point sideways or a bit downwards, rather than directly up.

I do recall that the red-flowered Bessera elegans got some hummingbird 
attention this summer, but the blooms hang downwards and I don't know if the 
birds really got nectar from the flowers.

One thing I do for birds is to limit my use of pesticides.  I'm not averse 
to pesticides use them when needed (eastern lubber grasshoppers beware). 
However, I do try to spot treat rather than kill all the insects in my yard. 
It is a trade-off-I get some damage and I also enjoy more small lizards and 
birds coming and going.

Pesticides are a big topic, and not really the subject of this email. 
However, one resource that I use to study pesticides (danger to birds, pets, 
ground water, aquatic organisms, or persistence in the environment, etc.) is 
EXTOXNET.  You can research almost any pesticide by brand name or chemical 
component, and find lots of data.  I like to compare oral  toxicity with 
caffeine toxicity.  If a compound is not more toxic (to humans) than is 
caffeine, I am more likely to consider using it.


LINK:  Caffeine Toxicity Data



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