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Posts Tagged ‘poison ivy’

I was shocked the first time that a friend identified little white-colored berries like those in these photos as poison ivy berries. I had no idea that poison ivy plants produced berries and, upon learning that they did, I assumed they must be poisonous. I was both right and wrong. These little berries are definitely poisonous for humans, but they are an important food source for many birds during the winter. It is amazing to me how birds that eat almost exclusively bugs during the warm months can switch to a plant-based diet in the winter, but it helps to ensure their survivability.

Last week I spotted this Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) as it poked about among several clusters of poison ivy berries. The kinglet was in constant motion and was mostly in the shadows, but I was able to capture these images. I like the way that you can see some of the details of the vines wrapped around the branches and the way that the distant branches provide some shadowy forms in the background.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus), the most colorful woodpeckers in our area, prefer to eat ants and other insects. Now that the weather had gotten colder and insects are scarcer, they have switched their diet to include more berries and seeds.

Earlier this week I spotted this male Northern Flicker (males have moustaches and females do not) foraging among the clumps of poison ivy berries in a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The photos give you a sense of the wonderful colors and patterns on the body of this incredible bird.

I didn’t get to see the insides of the wings of this particular flicker, but Northern Flickers on the East Coast have beautiful yellow-shafted feathers on the underside of their wings and tails. On the West Coast, Northern Flickers have red moustaches and red shafts on the underside of their wings and tails.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Yellow-rumped Warblers (Setophaga coronata) eat mostly insects in the summer, but when the weather gets colder they switch to seeds and berries. This past week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I captured a number of shots of Yellow-rumped Warblers as they munched on what I think are poison ivy berries.

In the past, I have seen birds eating these berries only during the coldest days of the winter, leading me to think they were the only available food source. Who knows, maybe poison ivy berries are a real delicacy—though I am not will to try them to see if that is true.

 

 

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) really seemed to be enjoying the poison ivy berries that it managed to find on a frigid morning earlier this month at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

This little bird was so focused on finding food that it was not disturbed by my presence, which allowed me to capture a series of images.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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