I laughed as I typed that title. What has prompted this post is Bird Photography Weekly #44, a meme that I have participated in since its inception. I wanted to post a species that I hadn't posted before. But then, I can't think of the Yellow-throated vireo without also thinking of butterflies and thistle. I'll come back to this.
On May 30th I visited Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville and had lunch with friend, Stephen Lyn Bales, a naturalist, fellow nature blogger and interpreter at Ijams. During our picnic lunch, this Yellow-throated vireo was singing pretty continuously and Stephen Lyn identified him by song. Catching a glimpse of the bird, I snapped a few images and the one below gave me the visual confirmation that I needed to find him in my Peterson's field guide. The vireos are new to me, but it seems this is my vireo year. Within the last month, I have seen and heard the Yellow-throated and the Blue-headed vireos and heard the song of the Red-eyed vireo.
I found some neat information in my Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee about Yellow-throated vireos and cowbird predation. It doesn't always go the cowbird's way. "The Yellow-throated Vireo is frequently parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds and may occasionally build a new nest floor over a cowbird egg. [!] ....I have three times observed adult vireos feeding fledgling cowbirds....On 28 June 1986 a pair of vireos was seen fighting off a female cowbird attempting to approach the vireo's nest."--Charles P. Nicholson.
I also enjoyed the nest description from the atlas: "The nest is built of bark strips, plant fibers, and grasses held together with spider webs and lined with fine grasses or hair. The outside is decorated with lichens, moss, and masses of spider webbing, and Bent (1950) described it as the handsomest nest of any vireo." The account also reports that both the male and female sing frequently while incubating. (I love this book!) And that brings me to the thistle. Between the table where we ate and the vireo singing, there was a garden of bull thistles with sunlight and butterflies dancing on the blossoms. I could barely eat lunch for chasing the butterflies with my camera. And as I looked through the lens, I got an intimate view of the fritillary's proboscis as it probed the blossom and that fun little insect expression!
This only makes me want to know more, like where exactly is the nectar in that bull thistle blossom and how does that prob get to it? The more I watch, the more fascinating nature becomes and the more it sparks curiosity. This could keep me going for days!
And below, some Columbine blossoms that I passed along the way. Already past their prime, they were hanging like delicate beauty bells among the stiffened pods that are broadcasting seed for the next generation.
Linked to Bird Photography Weekly #44, at Birdfreak.com to promote the conservation of our world's birds.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.