Dead poke weed is a favorite of mine for providing photogenic perches for winter bird photography however poke is also a good wildlife forage plant as well.
In casual conversation with my brother, he mentioned that a fellow photographer had noted that he had never seen anything eat poke. I began to think of what I had observed and photographed in the past. While I have observed a few different species of bird eating poke berries the below photos document both deer and a cardinal utilizing the plant. While I have never seen a deer eating green poke leaves I have watched many times as they stripped a plant bare of its dead leaves during the winter months.
Here a doe eats poke berries that are beginning to shrivel after having been killed by an earlier frost.
A molting male cardinal sits on a poke branch, his bill stained by the plump ripe fruits.
And a whitetail buck nibbles poke berries that have just ripened in the late summer.
So while poke does make great perches for bird photography, it is also a good natural food source as well.
Nice shot Coy. I always love close up deer photos. I have some Poke Weed growing, probably from bird deposits, in an area of my yard I keep wild for bird photography. I've read the berries are the least poisonous part of the plant. Eating the root or red branches will make you sick or kill you. Makes you wonder how an animal knows what they can and can't eat.
Super photos, Coy!
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