Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cardinal Bird and Bumble Bee

Last Monday evening, my husband and I were eating a late supper. On the patio immediately outside of the dining room French doors are several pots of herbs, one tomato plant and one jalapeno plant. I wasn't too surprised to see a beautiful male Cardinal fly down and perch on the side of the pot holding the jalapeno plant. However, what it did next, did cause me some wonder.

It hopped off the edge and stood in the dirt at the base of the plant for a moment, then hopped to the opposite side of the pot. It flitted a way for a moment and returned, following the same behavior. The third repetition of his actions amazed me even more. He started tugging on one of the peppers! I couldn't believe it. Those peppers are spicy! He flitted off once more and then returned to tug on the pepper once again.

I mentioned it to my husband, whose back was toward the French doors so that he missed the entire escapade. He didn't believe me. I verified my comment by saying, "Look for yourself" without thinking that any movement on my husband's part would probably frighten the bird away. Well, Husband turned, bird skedaddled. Husband was not convinced. So, not willing to be disbelieved, I opened the French doors and pointed to the remains of the accosted pepper. The evidence was there! Husband took a different tack. "He better leave my peppers alone!" Then,
"Why would a red bird want to eat a jalapeno pepper? It doesn't make sense!"

"Okay; I agree, but he did bite on it, more than once! I don't understand it, but I know what I witnessed!" That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!
This is the pepper plant the Cardinal set his eyes upon.

This is the evidence of the bird's designs on Husband's jalapeno pepper.

AND the damage he left behind!

When I went out, a moment ago to capture a picture of the poor pepper (evidence, you know) I was barely missed by a flying missile--yes that very large critter in the top middle of the picture above--the one that seems to be ingesting Basil nectar. That one!

This Basil Plant is a very close neighbor to the Jalapeno Pepper Plant. The activity around it (the Basil Plant) has been rather remarkable the past several days, too. One day I saw several very large Bumble Bees, some smaller looking Bumble Bees (or whatever they are--I'd say they were less than half, maybe only one third the size of the bigger ones), a yellow-jacket I mistook for a Honey Bee at first, and then a Humming bird came tasting the goodies provided by my well loved Basil Plant. The fragrance, I have to admit, is a bit heady! Were I an insect or nectar drinking bird, I too, would probably sup at that table.

Wait! I do sup at that table! I plucked several of its lovely leaves for my spaghetti sauce just last week. (So, it wasn't nectar. So what?) Of course, I also plucked some fresh Oregano and Rosemary leaves/sprigs to join the Basil. It (the spaghetti sauce) was yummy, if I do say so!

Okay. Back to the Bee. Confound it! It didn't want to sit still for two seconds for me to focus on it so I could get a good picture of it. (We're talking "portrait" mode here. No real zoom lens. I was six inches or less from this insect.) So, it was intent on its business, not mine. (I guess I can be thankful for that.) At any rate, while I was commanding it to be still for a least a moment, and clicking off as many shots as I could, I looked away from the camera long enough to notice its starboard wing wasn't whole. Poor baby! However does it manage to fly? (I'm really proud of this shot! I wasn't sure I'd managed it. I think I mentioned a post or three back that so many of the pictures I take with Husband's camera, I take virtually blind. I point, pray and click.)

I did manage to get a few other good shots of this little (BIG?) flying critter, but I didn't want to bore you! Perhaps these two will suffice.

Anyway, has anyone out there witnessed similar, weird behavior in red birds--or other birds--that you'd like to share? So now I have TWO questions for you folks out there: One about Cardinal Bird diets, and the other about How do Bumble Bees fly with missing wing parts? Please let me know.


Amy said...

The big bee is a xylocopidae or carpenter bee. The little one could be a megachilidae but it's hard to tell.

Debby said...

Bumble bees are not supposed to be able to fly, even without missing wing parts.

Pencil Writer said...

I wish I'd gotten a clearer picture of the smaller bee. It's wings were SO VERY disproportionate to its body! I looked and said, "Yeah. Not big enough. I don't care that it was flitting all over the place with those tiny, tiny wings, but it WAS!

Pencil Writer said...

Oh! Daughter Amy told me about the red bird, too. Said birds don't have tastebuds. (Sad for them, I would think--I love my tatesbuds!) Anyway, since they don't have tastebuds, some people spray pepper sauce or some other "hot pepper" stuff on bird seed so squirrels--who DO have tastebuds and DON'T like hot, peppery stuff--will leave the bird's seed alone. Least that would make sense in light of my evidence. :-}

Mary Paddock said...

Beautiful pictures, Pencil Writer.

I didn't know birds would eat peppers.

*Eyes her own Habaneros with concern*

I love it that you share your garden so willingly with wildlife. I've always thought that there has to be an acceptance of a certain amount of loss in order to give back.