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Pollinators of Sycamore Grove Park by Ranger Danny (May 2024)

May contain: animal, apidae, bee, insect, invertebrate, flower, plant, wasp, bumblebee, and honey bee

Growing up in Livermore, I've always loved running around outside: exploring and adventuring through the city's open space and parks, riding my bike through Robertson Park along the creek to get to Sycamore Grove, and seeing if we could find any animals. All the while, I've loved watching the plants and flowers bloom and grow! We have a vast array of these plants because of our wonderful pollinators. June 17th-23rd is recognized as Pollinator Week this year, and Sycamore Grove Park is home to many different types of pollinators.

U​understanding Pollination

Diagram of a flower's parts, labeled: Stamen (anther, filament) and Pistil (stigma, style, ovary, egg cells), including petals and sepals.

What do we mean by pollinating? Pollinating is when a pollen grain moves from a flower's anther (one of the male parts) to the stigma (one of the female parts). This is the first step in producing seeds, fruits, and the next generation of plants. This can happen through self-pollination, wind and water pollination, or through the work of vectors such as birds, bees, bats, and other critters that move pollen within the flower and from bloom to bloom. These critters are what we call pollinators!

Bats: Unsung Heroes of Pollination

Here in Sycamore Grove Park, we enjoy the benefits of Mexican Free-tailed bats eating up mosquitos and other bugs as they fly through the night sky. For those of us who enjoy sugar, rum, or agave, elsewhere in the state, other bats are hard at work as pollinators – like the Mexican long-tongued bat and the Lesser long-nosed bat. As these bats visit flowers to drink their nectar, the flower's pollen will stick to the bat's hairs, so when it lands on a new flower, that pollen will transfer to the new plant. So not only are bats in California helping to eliminate some pesky bugs, but they are also helping our plants succeed!

The Anna's Hummingbird: A Tiny Pollination Powerhouse

The next pollinator on our list is the Anna's Hummingbird. You can spot these quick birds zooming in and out of trees and plant life as they search for a new flower full of nectar. Hummingbirds are attracted to long tubular flowers with thin floral nectar. The flowers they most visit are usually yellow, orange, and especially red. Unlike bees, which cannot distinguish red and are highly stimulated by yellow, blue, and UV colors, hummingbirds are attuned to visual pigments in the shorter wavelengths of oranges and reds. They will often approach people wearing red caps or shirts. Red glass or plastic hummingbird feeders are super attractive, and they learn the locations of these colors. They may revisit them repeatedly, making your backyard a bird watchers' paradise.

California's Diverse Pollinators

These are just some of California's bigger and more noticeable pollinators. Let us not forget about the biggest pollen spreaders in the park: butterflies, moths, flies, and bees. These little critters fly from flower to flower and eat the leaves, nectar, and pollen of the flowers they visit. Once they arrive and eat, the animal gets covered in pollen, and when they move to the next flower, the pollen falls off them, pollinating the plants nearby!

Embracing Pollen for Flora Flourishment

So, even though many of us get allergies during these pollen seasons, we need it to help our wonderful flora flourish instead of flounder!