Wildflowers: Planting Living Roofs for Native Pollinators Part II Webpage uri icon


  • Spring is on the rise in the Northern Hemisphere as wildflowers begin to unfold their annual ultraviolet light show. Birds and bees see some of the same colors we can see, plus more. Although humans cant see the solar spectrum called ultraviolet light, the eyes of birds and bees can, and it allows them to roam across landscapes in search of nectar-filled wildflowers. Eyes began to evolve on primitive life forms about 540 million years ago, but these primitive forms of life could not see much other than faint colorless blotches of light (Parizotto and Lamberts 2011). Pollination first began to evolve about 300 million years ago through an elegant ecological banter between flowers, birds, and insects (Darwell, Fox et al. 2014). Flowers need cross-pollination to reproduce, and insects need nectar as food. Flowers began to develop elaborate displays of color, like billboards used to entice insects and birds in for a good meal (Briscoe and Chittka 2001). However, visitors leave with a little something extrapollen, which is spread to a neighboring flower to cross-pollinate. About 100 million years ago, there was a rapid increase in plant, insect, and bird diversity as they developed eyes to see the many evolving colors of nectar-producing flowers (Ren, Labandeira et al. 2009). In addition to bees, flies, moths, butterflies, beetles, and other insects, some birds also feed on nectar. Hummingbirds are well-known nectar feeders, but orioles, mockingbirds, grosbeaks, tanagers, and several species of warblers will also search out nectar. Bats are the only flying mammals, and they love to feed on nectar.

author list (cited authors)

  • Dvorak, B.

complete list of authors

  • Dvorak, Bruce

publication date

  • March 2022