Monday, June 29, 2020

pappus for nesting

One of the great wonders of photography is that it captures a split second of time and freezes it forever. That split-second will never be seen again. Photography also stops motion. In front of me was a thistle seed head with a gentle breeze dispersing the tufts of plant down called pappus with the thistle seeds to float on the wind and land far away. And there’s one species of bird that depends on this plant down. 

The American goldfinch is the last species of bird in our area to start nesting in the calendar year, usually mid-May. They wait until the thistle seed heads start to open to disperse and display their fluffy pappus to the wind. This is what the female goldfinches line their nests with perhaps for extra softness. And goldfinches can have two broods a summer.

Goldfinch photo from Betty Thompson. Thank you!

Male goldfinch on chicory

And for those on the go, a gram in an Instant. 

Author of Natural HistoriesGhost Birds and Ephemeral by Nature all published by the University of Tennessee Press.

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