The particular relationship between camellia flowers and white‑eyes


For the previous two years, like a lot of you, I’ve avoided going out unnecessarily as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. Since I couldn’t exit to {photograph} wild birds, I spent about two weeks from January to February 2021 photographing Mountain White-eyes Zosterops japonicus flying over the Japanese Camellia flowers on the Imperial Palace.

Initially printed in “By way of the Lens” Fujingahou Journal, February, 2022
Textual content by HIH Princess Takamado

Right now of yr, white-eyes fly to plum and camellia flowers in quest of nectar. I’ve photographed white-eyes perched on plum blossoms and cherry blossoms earlier than, however that is the primary time, together with my exhibition, that I’ve photographed a white-eye with camellia flowers. The rationale for that is that camellia flowers usually have blemishes that can not be seen from a distance, and though I’ve tried a number of instances, I’ve by no means been capable of take {a photograph} that I’m happy with.

So this time, I checked the camellia flowers with binoculars earlier than the white-eyes arrived, and chosen stunning flowers the place I assumed the white-eyes may perch. Sadly, the white-eyes didn’t cease at any of the flowers I had chosen – in all probability as a result of they thought they didn’t have sufficient nectar. Nevertheless, I paid consideration to the situation of the petals, and as I repeatedly noticed and photographed the flowers from dawn to 11 a.m. each few days, I observed one thing attention-grabbing.

Mountain White-eye, copyright Stijn de Win, from the surfbirds galleries

It’s regular for a flower to fade and for its petals to be broken over time, however many camellia flowers are brown and broken from the time they bloom on the tree. I had all the time thought that this was just because camellia petals are weak and simply broken, however the truth is this was not the case. Additionally, as I used to be inspecting the harm to the flowers, I observed that for some cause the harm was focused on the decrease petals of the camellias.

Since white-eyes are very small birds, they perch on the petals of enormous camellia flowers to drink nectar. As I noticed them, I observed that they usually perch on the decrease petals, maybe as a result of it’s simpler for them to maintain their stability, and their lengthy, sharp talons dig into the petals. You’ll be able to see this within the photograph. In different phrases, the brown scars usually seen on camellia flowers are the scars made by white-eyes whereas ingesting nectar.

Camellia flowers bloom when the climate remains to be chilly. Right now of yr, bugs will not be very energetic, so camellia flowers must depend on birds for pollination. To ensure that camellia flowers to be pollinated by birds, the birds must be guided to the stamens positioned within the centre of the flower. Camellia flowers have a construction wherein all of the petals and stamens are linked, so birds can’t push between the petals to drink the nectar. As an alternative, they’ve to stay their heads into entrance of the flower to take action.

I usually see white-eyes and Brown-eared Bulbuls Hypsipetes amaurotis with yellow pollen on their heads and faces, so I can say that the camellia technique is working. By the way, camellia flowers are mentioned to be dangerous luck as a result of the entire head of the flower falls off without delay, virtually as if it’s a traitor that has been beheaded by a sword. Nevertheless, if we bear in mind the evolutionary cause behind its fused petals, we are able to redeem the honour of this flower, which has been beloved as an auspicious species since historical instances.

Camellia flowers bloom within the chilly season, which is a blessing for the white-eyes that wish to feed on the nectar of the flowers. Whereas observing them, I observed that they like crimson or darkish pink flowers to white ones. The rationale for his or her desire for vibrant colors could also be that they’re simpler to identify from a distance. Additionally, the one birds that perch on camellia petals are white-eyes – I’m wondering if camellia flowers have advanced to have petals that may stand up to the load of white-eyes so as to be pollinated? My curiosity is countless.

The scratches that I used to think about as “soiled” are literally worthwhile proof of the particular relationship between camellia flowers and white-eyes. Once I observe them with this in thoughts, I’ve began to really feel they’re much more cute. If it weren’t restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I wouldn’t have stood in entrance of the camellia tree for days with my digicam on the prepared. And because of my persistence, I used to be capable of take footage and share them with you.  I consider that the enjoyment and satisfaction of noticing one thing by remark is excellent for one’s psychological well being. I wish to maintain my thoughts versatile and proceed observing wild birds on this means.


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