Thursday, June 19, 2014
Red hot poker attracts orioles
We usually choose flowers for our yard that are known to attract birds or butterflies. For example we have in our yard coral honeysuckle, fire pink, cardinal flower, and red buckeye, all native and liked by hummingbirds. Last year, however, we planted a red hot poker (Kniphofia species)from South Africa based only on its striking beauty, but much to our excitement it turns out to be absolutely loved by orchard orioles.The male (adult and juvenile) and female orioles come to the flowers many times daily and drink nectar from the open flowers at the bottom of the flower head. Goldfinches have also come to the flowers. Apparently there are different species of poker that can greatly extend the flowering season, as can dead-heading the flower stalks to prevent seed formation.I believe that it is more beneficial in terms of nutrition to feed birds in this way, with flowers bearing nectar, than to provide artificial nectar with sugar water. I certainly find it appeals to my sense of "ecological correctness" even though the flowers may be exotic.