Pollination is a vital process. While some crops such as cereals are wind-pollinated, many crops that we eat (fruits, vegetables and nuts) require animal-assisted pollination to grow and reproduce, as do many native plants. In our garden, birds, butterflies and bees move pollen from the male structures of a plant (“anthers”) to the female structures (“stigma”). This results in fertilisation, which in turn allows the flower to produce seeds and bear fruit, and causes new plants to grow.
In our garden, we can see an Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris), a honey-eater found in south-eastern Australia that feeds on the nectar of Bottlebrush flowers. It hovers like a hummingbird as it feeds, extracting nectar from the tubular flowers with its very long and thin curved beak. It has white outer tail feathers, with white on the breast, and white with patches of reddish-brown (rufous) on the throat. Its wings and lower back are dark grey and the underparts and upper back are a tan colour. The pinkish-purple Brachyscome daisies in our garden not only help to prevent weed growth, but they also attract pollinators such as honey bees, butterflies and native bees, as does the bright-yellow Clustered Everlasting Daisy.
While the pollinating animals search for nectar to eat, they collect pollen on their legs and/or body in the process, or in the case of buzz pollination carried out by some native bee species, the pollen is shaken free and spread around. Feeding on nectar and pollen also provides beneficial nutrients for the pollinators, including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.