Are Wild Parrots Pollinators?
Yes, parrots are pollinators. So are lizards, geckos, skinks, songbirds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps (yes, they actually do something), and small mammals. Lemurs pollinate in Madagascar. Crow pollinate flowers of the hawthorn tree. Bees are the most important and proficient pollinators. Here, in our backyard, I watch monk quakers assisting queen palms. I watch nanday conures monkey around our crepe myrtle assisting in its pollination. Our pindo palms (jelly palm) appreciate the monk quakers, squirrels, bees, and wasps, as well. Yes, wild parrots are part of the pollination process. And they are hilarious while doing it.
A typical wild nanday conure considering options on top of a foraging tree.
The reason bees are top pollinators is they take their job seriously. They are built to pollinate to survive. Nothing to pollinate? Nothing to use for food and housing. They do not have time for monkeying around. Quakers and nandays have no respect for what they are causing to happen. They are doing what they want, to find what they want to eat, where they want and when. There’s not a lot of difference between our companion parrots and the wild ones. The wild ones actually contribute to the circle of life. This morning, I’ve only witnessed our seven parrots contribute to the mess on the floors.
We’ve a robust and glorious crepe myrtle. We bought her young at Kathy’s Corner Nursery, close to our house in Saint Petersburg, Florida. In the spring she looks like a perfect bridal bouquet of purple-pink flowers. Massive clusters weigh branches down to a poetic sag, at peak bloom. The tree practically drips with blossoms. Bees, wasps, butterflies and songbirds, including our resident quaker and nanday, make homes, grocery runs, naps, and hideout from this tree. The bee numbers are huge. You can hear them working like soft chainsaws running all day. If the nanday aren’t in the tree, calling to the missing flock members. Then you hear them, our parrots yelling back, one hound barking, and a monk quaker off in the queen palms behind telling everyone to shut up. Nature is loud, if you listen.
We’ve robust pindo palms lining the south side of our fence. They are aggressive, presenting thick stems full of pindo nuts. Nuts you can gather to make jelly and jam, if you like. I harvest long stems for our macaws to enjoy. Two macaws will spend half a day plowing through long stems filled with fresh pindo nuts. Outside, bees pollinate the emerging pindo flowers that will soon become nuts, while the squirrels and monk quakers feast. Nandays follow-up but prefer gathering the dropped nuts off the ground below. Our floors are as messy as our side yard during the flourish of spring to early fall. Pollinators feasting, distributing, and doing their jobs. Like my job of sweeping the floor of pindo nuts, stems, and shredded skins. Our dogs feast small, rejected nuts off the floor. Our circle of life is a cycle of housework, but I consider the gull, possum, and raccoon my coworkers.
On the other side of our fence stands another tree. Banyan in growth, roots reaching for soils. Roots shooting from lower branches leaving the tree looking confident as it progresses wider and wider with each root finding it’s goal of earth. Ibis, crow, boat tailed blackbirds, starlings, mockingbirds, a pair of cardinal in the fall, and bossy blue jay call this tree home. The canopy of this tree is dense and umbrella like, offering all comfort, shade, and privacy.
Beyond is a pine tree taller than our house. It is bonsai in looks. It is prolific in cone production that feeds all who enjoy a good pine nut. In our front yard, a magnolia tree offers ripe red magnolia pods filled with soft red seeds. The squirrels and blue jays argue over every pod, even though there are hundreds. In the spring, our mag produces huge white blossoms before those pods. Blossoms bring in all the bees and butterflies.
I’m a huge fan of pollinators. We hold off on mowing and edging so early peanut grasses, and flowering plants can care for their pollinators. I refuse to use the word weed. There are no weeds, just early flowering plants. The bees and butterflies agree. We’ve planted flowering ground cover called mimosa (shame plant or sensitive plant). We protect natural peanut grasses, so their flowering contributes. We don’t use chemicals to control what nature would prefer to do herself. She’s good at, if you let her.
Florida has seventeen species of wild parrots flourishing. Doing what parrots do, pollinating, releasing nuts and seeds to the winds and ground, filling the sky with color, voice, and surprises.
Nature is full of surprises. If you listen. If you pay attention. If you let her surprise, you.