Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
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Native Winterberries Bursting Forth with Color

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November 14, 2019

Winterberries (Ilex verticillata) seem to be especially abundant this fall, with striking bursts of red appearing throughout the landscape. The University of Maine says that 49 species of birds, including songbirds, winter waterfowl and game birds, devour these native berries. “Frequent songbird consumers include eastern bluebirds, hermit and wood thrushes, American robins, catbirds, northern mockingbirds, brown thrashers, cedar waxwings, and white-tailed sparrows. Because the berries are relatively low in fat content, they are often taken late in the winter when other fruits are scarce.” At a time when many birds are harmed by such pesticides as the widely used neonicotinoids, planting or encouraging winterberries in an unsprayed landscape can be one of the best season’s greetings for all of us.

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