Oct 27 2009

Food for birds, not for people

Published by at 7:21 am under Bird Behavior

Downy Woopecker eating poison ivy berries (photo by Chuck Tague)
What was this downy woodpecker doing before she got nervous about having her picture taken?  She was eating those whitish berries.

What are those whitish berries?  Poison ivy!

This fall there’s a good crop of poison ivy berries in western Pennsylvania and the birds are loving it.  I’ve seen large flocks of migrants hopping among the vines and eating the berries.  I’m always amazed they do this.  Touching poison ivy causes a nasty rash for most people.  Eating the berries would be devastating, even life threatening. 

I have heard that some people think you can desensitize yourself to poison ivy by eating small amounts and gradually increasing the dose.  Would you want to be the one to try? 

Now that the leaves have fallen it’s harder to recognize poison ivy so be careful not to collect these vines and berries for decorations.  Look, but don’t touch!

(photo by Chuck Tague)

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