What are our year-round avian neighbors feasting on these days? If they haven’t found our feeders, they could be searching under tree bark for insects or going after juicy berries. Both American holly, Ilex opaca, and partridgeberry, Mitchella repens, produce bright red berries, colored to lure birds to eat them and disseminate the seeds. Partridgeberries will be the last to be eaten. Apparently their lack of appeal stems from low nutreitional value. Holly berries, on the other hand, are sought after by several species of birds, as well as deer, squirrels, chipmunks and other mammals. The berries are toxic to humans – but certainly a feast for the eyes!
The leathery leaves in the photo with the partridgeberry belong to trailing arbutus, Epigaea repens, one of our early spring wildflowers. We’ll soon be watching that one for signs of buds and flowers.