Among the Flowers

Near Colusa, which is north of Sacramento in California’s wide central valley, I came across a row of tall shrubs festooned with fabulous red flowers shaped like bottlebrushes. I didn’t know what they were, but when I typed the words “red bottlebrush flowers” into a search engine it immediately found the right plant, because it turns out that’s exactly what they’re called.

The Red Bottlebrush, or Callistemon, is Australian in origin. These plants are probably a variety of Melaleuca, meaning that the name Callistemon is scientifically invalid. Be that as it may, they are usually still called Callistemons in the gardening business.

Whatever you call them, it was obvious that they were bird magnets. I found a dozen or more species of birds swarming over this one bank of shrubs. Whether the birds were feasting on nectar, insects attracted to the nectar, or both, I couldn’t be certain.

But it was a feast for my camera. The first course was a bright male Western Tanager:

At first, it looked like only tanagers and Bullock’s Orioles, like this one, were coming in:

But it seemed every migrating bird in the vicinity could not resist joining the party. There were hummingbirds and other small birds, like this male Yellow Warbler:

A female Black-headed Grosbeak got into the action:

Even a Brewer’s Blackbird had to check things out:

After nearly an hour sitting in my car, shooting from the open window, it was obvious the birds would be coming and going all day. But it was time to move on. I wanted to visit more places in the area before it came time to resume my journey north again, and eventually home.

I leave you with one more capture of a Western Tanager, who appears to have met his match in brilliance:

Thanks for visiting, and may you be well!


  1. In our many California years, including seven in the Central Valley, we absolutely loved those bottlebrush trees. Too bad I wasn’t paying attention to the colorful birds checking them out. Great collection!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! As a longtime Calif. resident and birder, I have seen and enjoyed many bottlebrush trees, but I have never seen this array of spring birds in them…what a bonanza. I have seen hummingbirds visiting them. I am especially dazzled by the fantastic western tanager in breeding photos. Great post, Mike.

    Liked by 1 person

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