Formed By Him – Plants and Pollinator Birds

Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa) by Ian

Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa) by Ian

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. (Genesis 1:30 KJV)

God has created an amazing bird, the Malachite Sunbird, and a beautiful flower, Babiana Ringens or “Rat’s Tail,” that both need one another to help meet their needs. The bird wants the nectar the flower produces and the flower needs to pollinate and is helped by the birds feathers. To help the two, the flower was created with a perch for the “long-tailed” bird to perch on while drinking nectar.

“Babiana ringens has a bright red floral display situated close to ground level . Its red colour , long corolla tubes and copious nectar supply make it attractive to sunbirds, which seem to be the primary pollinators of this plant. A strange, fleshy, twig-like structure projects above the plant giving it the common name of “rotstert ” or “rat’s tail.” The sole function of this twig-structure is that it provides a perching platform for sunbirds, which presumably “feel more comfortable” pollinating the plant from this vantage point than from the ground (Anderson et al. 2005). Having this perch increases outcrossing rates and positions birds correctly for efficient pollen transfer (Anderson et al. 2005). Anderson et al. (2005) also showed that male sunbirds were more particular about the presence or absence of a perch which they ascribed to territoriality or perhaps because using a perch is less likely to damage the long tail sported only by males than if they used the ground. This is arguably the most specialized bird perch in the world.” (To see whole article – Click Here)

Malachite Sunbird - plant for - Rats Tail (babiana ringens) ©©JG in SF

Malachite Sunbird – plant for – Rats Tail (babiana ringens) ©©JG in SF – (see the stem at left)

From Creation Moments:

Plants with Perches for Pollinator Birds –  Copyright © 2011, Creation Moments, PO Box 839, Foley, MN 56329,

Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps … Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl… (Psalm 148:7, 10)

Could a plant devise a special growth for itself so that it becomes inviting to its only pollinator? If evolution was true, how could such a plant survive until it could learn enough about its pollinator, and about genetics, to evolve a special growth just for that pollinator.

Those sound like silly questions, but if evolution is true, they must be answered, and answered scientifically. A South African plant called the “Rat’s Tail” grows a seemingly purposeless spear that extends near its flowers. Theorizing that the spear might be a bird-perch for a pollinator, scientists closely watched some of the plants in the wild. They learned that the only bird that seems interested in pollinating the plant is a bird called the “Malachite Sunbird.” The scientists then removed the spikes from some of the plants. The result was that male sunbirds were far less likely to visit and pollinate those plants. As a result, perchless-plants only produced half as many seeds as plants with perches. Researchers pointed out that this arrangement makes sense because male sunbirds have long tails that can be damaged by ground landings.

However, if we conclude that the Rat’s Tails were created for the sunbirds, and the sunbirds for the Rat’s Tails, we don’t have to find natural explanations for such silly questions. This is simply another of God’s clever designs.

Lord, Your caring hand is all around us. I thank You especially for caring for me by forgiving my sins. Amen.
Science News, 6/4/05, p. 365, “Built-in bird perch spreads the pollen.”

Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa) ©©Rainbirder

Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa) ©©Rainbirder

The Malachite Sunbird is in the Nectariniidae – Sunbirds Family of the Passeriformes Order or Perching Birds and are found across Africa, the Middle East and into South-east Asia.

The breeding male Malachite Sunbird, which has very long central tail feathers, is 25cm long, and the shorter-tailed female 15 cm. The adult male is metallic green when breeding, with blackish-green wings with small yellow pectoral patches. In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the male’s upperparts are brown apart from the green wings and tail, the latter retaining the elongated feathers. The underparts in eclipse plumage are yellow, flecked with green.

The female has brown upperparts and dull yellow underparts with some indistinct streaking on the breast. Her tail is square-ended. The juvenile resembles the female.

This species, like most sunbirds, feed mainly on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. This sunbird may hunt in a similar manner to a flycatcher, hawking for insect prey from a perch.  Most sunbird species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed most of the time. As a fairly large sunbird, the Malachite Sunbird is no exception. They have long thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to nectar feeding.

Wordless Birds


One thought on “Formed By Him – Plants and Pollinator Birds

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