BASICS: "Hummingbirds.....where is the person, I ask, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and turn his mind with reverence..." (J. J. Audubon).
This is a blog about my summer life at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary, at my winter garden, Calypso, in the Bahamas, and aspects of life in general.
This private sanctuary is now permanently closed to the general public, as a result of a lawsuit brought by a neighbor. Only my friends and personal guests may visit (paul.adams%stonybrook.edu).
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
CLOSED until august 2014; golden dab; why sex?
We are now closed until august 2014. A few slots are available for visits by appointment - see below.
Today's photo was taken on sunday by Rick Mei. Notice the little dab of golden pollen near the base of the bill. Typically a flower's anther places pollen on the bill or forehead of the probing bird. This is then transferred to the next flower's stigma, achieving cross-pollination. But since most plants can also reproduce vegetatively, or asexually, why do most prefer to reproduce sexually, by cross-pollination? Oddly enough, this simple question is still not completely answered by modern evolution theory. Creationists could rightly claim that evolution theory is incomplete, but luckily they don't like to talk about sex.
The simple answer is that sex is almost universal because it promotes genetic variety (as we all know), which is useful in a complex and ever-changing world. However it's not easy to prove that this is the case. The main problem is that sex is in other ways extremely inefficient: if an organism reproduces "vegetatively" (i.e. asexually, e.g. by budding) it generates twice as many offspring: sex takes 2 organisms rather than 1. Sex remains the "Queen of Evolutionary Problems", since it has not been conclusively shown that the sexual bargain is a good one, in the long term ("do my genes have a better chance of surviving if I reproduce sexually or asexually?"). I'll write more about this fascinating but rather abstruse topic in future posts. In the mean time, let's enjoy the complicated sex lives of hummingbirds and flowers.
Visiting by Appointment. ONLY NEW VISITORS (i.e. no previous visit this year; past years ok) WITH WAIVERS. NO VISITING OUTSIDE OF THESE TIMES and then ONLY IF YOU RECEIVE EXPLICIT PERSONAL APPROVAL BY EMAIL FOR YOUR PARTICULAR REQUESTED TIME (print out my email to you and bring please). NOT transferable to other times. YOU MUST STATE IN YOUR REQUEST (title your email "Slot Request") THE NAMES of all your accompanying car passengers and your car license plate number. INDICATE THOSE WHO HAVE ANY DIFFICULTY WALKING so we can make appropriate arrangements. ALL VISITS SHOULD LAST NO LONGER THAN 1 1/2 hours. AM slots start the trail prompt at 10, pm slots prompt at 3; you should arrive a bit before your slot time (but only start the trail on time; I will greet you in the parking lot). It can be difficult to find us so give yourself plenty of time. No late-comers please.
AVAILABLE SLOT TIMES: tuesday sept 3 am, friday sept 6 pm only. Email me your slot choice, giving the names and walking ability of all members of your party. Thanks.