Red-headed house sparrow

Amongst the dozens of sparrows and their babies around at the moment, I keep spotting this one which has a bright orange head.

House sparrow with pollen-dyed head feathers
House sparrow with pollen-dyed head feathers

It looks quite funny, and I’m not sure what’s happened to it, but most likely (according to a quick Google) it has had its feathers dyed as a consequence of feeding on phormium flowers: the orange colour being phormium pollen.

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Phormium flowering

Back in May, one of my Phormium tenax plants started to put up two flower spikes.

By late June, the flower spikes were looking very architectural, like rockets heading to the sky:)
By late June, the flower spikes were looking very architectural, like rockets heading to the sky:)
Inside the spathes, the flower buds looked like little tiny bananas
Inside the spathes, the flower buds looked like little tiny bananas

These have grown taller and taller: one is now about nine feet tall, the other about seven.

The spikes kept growing taller and the spathes peeled back from the buds...
The spikes kept growing taller and the spathes peeled back from the buds…

Today, the first flowers are beginning to open.

...and finally, the flowers have begun to open.
…and finally, the flowers have begun to open.

It’s fine to let Phormiums flower – they are not like agaves that die once they’ve flowered. It’s also fine to “prune” them if they’re getting out of hand, although it’s difficult to achieve a very tidy result: the cut edges will always remain, but in time, they’re disguised to some extent by new leaves.