Staghorn Sumac and Birds
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) is a small tree with hairy twigs, hairy leave stalks and hairy fruit. The tree gets its name for the resemblance the branches have with deer’s antlers when the antlers are “in velvet”. The Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants says “American Indians used berries in cough syrups. Berry tea used for lung ailments. Gargled for sore throats and worms. Leaf tea used for sore throats, tonsillitis. Root or bark tea astringent; used for bleeding”. But do note they remind us; “Do not confuse Staghorn Sumac with Poison Sumac”!!!
This weekend with the heavy snow we received that blanked the ground . . . it forced many of our Robins to forage for food under non-snowy ground cover or on the Sumac trees! I found that Sumac is only eaten by the birds whenever there is nothing else to eat! Not sure if you remember earlier this month me posting this photo below of an American Crow feeding on some sumac. This was a day that we received both heavy snow and freezing rain, which had forced this bird to go after its last resort food!
Today while cleaning some bluebird boxes out, I found some sumac scat (from some birds) that reminded me of a blog post I did last year on “Food that helps the bluebirds during a snow storm”. I will summarize the post stating that “My SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) is that this scat is really from the Eastern Bluebirds” and just before that stated “that these seeds gave the birds the runs”! The discussions in this post was very interesting and I will share what Luis M stated “Staghorn Sumac is a natural laxative . . so my guess is that you’re probably right with the “runs” theory!”
So, if you were hungry and Staghorn Sumac was the last thing available for you to eat . . . would you eat it knowing that you would get the runs? I guess the birds are thinking the same way that we would in this situation (Last Resort Food)!
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