Fertilisation of Flowers by Birds


AMONG the “Biological Notes” in NATURE, vol. xv. p. 416, there is one referring to the agency of birds in effecting the fertilisation of flowers. A few weeks before reading this note I was induced to suspect that many flowers might be dependent wholly or in part on the visits of small birds for their effectual fertilisation by observing that a very considerable number of birds shot at that time had the plumes of the forehead and the lores thickly dusted with pollen. This fact was noticed in several species of Dicœinœ and Neclariniinœ, in the Loriculi, and even in a glossy starling (Calornis panayensis), which latter is mainly a frugivorous bird. Both the sun-birds and flower-peckers are fruit-feeders to a certain extent; but they also prey on minute insects, in search of which (and possibly of the nectar sometimes) they diligently probe the corollas of numerous flowers, and on withdrawing their heads a portion of the pollen remains in many instances adhering to the plumage bordering the bill, and is carried away and introduced into the next blossom visited.

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EVERETT, A. Fertilisation of Flowers by Birds. Nature 16, 476–477 (1877). https://doi.org/10.1038/016476b0

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