Ruby-throated Hummingbird and orange spotted touch-me-not
One of the most important themes in Biology is that of interdependence. The evolution of an ecosystem's complexity, the harmony in its parts, is built upon the many relationships between those parts. It takes more than a complex enumeration of the members of an ecosystem to approach understanding. To truly begin to grasp an ecosystem's living harmony is to seek an understanding of intersections between key life history events, the flowering, the pollinating, the migrating, the birth, the death, the mating, the growing... These events do not just intersect in space. They also intersect in time.
The spotted touch-me-not, known to many as jewel weed, may not have any name at all in the universe of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, but it has a deeply entrenched meaning to the bird. As summer's days grow short, cold northern weather patterns increasingly bring azure skies and a brisk chill to the morning dew. Even the latest nests of hummingbirds are fledging their young. As the young grow in strength and the breeding season becomes a fact of the past, hummingbirds ramp up in their determination to migrate south to the tropics. It is during this time that the jewel weed are blooming, the nectar fueling hummingbird migrations, the hummingbirds actively and incidentally transporting the jewel weed pollen. For the hummingbird, the jewel weed signals the end of the breeding season and the urgency of migration. For the jewel weed, the hummingbird migration brings a promise of genetic diversity and a boost in sexual reproduction. The two are entwined in the story of survival, mutualism and urgency in new life. The two represent production and growth in a time of year when so many species are tucking away in preparation for winter.
All images were made with a Canon 40D, Canon EF400 mm f5.6 lens, and a Gitzo basalt tripod. And where would somebody go to find spotted touch-me-not? A beaver pond, of course!