How many birds dance on the head of a coneflower?
Only one that I've seen - the American goldfinch.
The male goldfinch, dressed in his brightest summer yellow, goes to some trouble to get the coneflower seeds. He clings to the stem, digging deep into the head with his beak, while the stem sways with his weight.
The goldfinch moves from side to side of the flower, intently focused on getting to the seeds, and digging, digging with his beak. Perhaps this is why coneflowers look so ragged this time of year?
The goldfinch then moves to the patch where beebalm and coneflowers intermingle. I admit that the seedheads are not attractive to a conventional gardener. But they provide food for birds - and also are sources of seedlings (free plants!). This is a reason I don't deadhead until early spring.
After much swaying on the stem and contorting his head, the goldfinch looks at the photographer.
Not to be outdone, the ruby-throated hummingbird shows up to feed on potted impatiens.
Some days I have waited for hours with the camera for birds to appear in a particular spot. Today, I expected to have no time to watch nature because I am crashing on a deadline for my thesis proposal. But I happened to be walking by the window, saw the goldfinch outside, and one thing led to another.
A small grace.