For our backyard bird neighbors that eat fruits and berries, autumn is a time of plenty. During this glorious time of the year, many of the native and ornamental plants that grow in our yards are laden with fruits and berries. Most of these plants such as oaks, dogwoods, sumacs, zinnias, are easily recognizable. However, other fruit and berry-bearing plants are often overlooked. Believe it or not, one such plant is poison ivy.
I doubt that even the most dedicated wildlife enthusiasts encourage poison ivy to grow in their yards. However, as hard as we might try to eliminate this woody vine from our property, invariably the plant’s woody vines decorated with three leaflets crop up again and again.
Should you find a healthy poison ivy vine growing in an undeveloped corner or along the edge of your yard, as long it could serve as a source of food for birds without posing as a threat to you.
If the dried fruits and seeds are not gobbled up in the fall, they provide a nutritious source of food for more than a dozen backyard birds well into winter.
The list of birds known to eat the fruits and seeds of this reviled native include the eastern bluebird, Carolina chickadee, northern flicker, dark-eyed junco, ruby-crowned kinglet, yellow-bellied sapsucker, white-throated sparrow, tufted titmouse, yellow-rumped warbler, northern mockingbird, brown thrasher, as well as hairy, downy, and red-bellied woodpeckers.
If you look at your yard as a giant smorgasbord, it may be a little easier for you to look at a smattering of poison ivy vines in a different light. Just do not touch them.