Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Pokeweed and Bluebirds
Phytolacca Americanna - Pokeweed, pokebush, polk salad / salat / sallet, pokeberry, call it what you want. This time of year, it is the bane of car owners. Farmers attempt to erradicate it because of the toxic effect it has on livestock if ingested. Birds...they love the berries. They are not affected by the plant toxins because the hard shelled seed inside the berry is passed undigested thus aiding in the spread of the plant.
The history and lore associated with the plant makes for good reading if you like to store away some trivial facts. The cultural significance of Pokeweed in the south is evidenced by a 1969 hit song "Polk Salad Annie" written and performed by Tony Joe White and recorded in Muscle Shoals, AL. And now, I will have the song in my head for the rest of the night.
I stood and watched at least 18 young bluebirds flying in and out of this one patch. Unfortunately, since blocked off by a fence I could not get to the most advantagous lighting position so the shots are just so-so. While it was a steady stream of them flying in and out, there would be the occasion a large group would flock in and dive into the patch. When individual birds would approach, they would do a hover motion as if looking for the best and ripest berries.
Hopefully this weekend I will have the chance to go back although the weather is suppose to be miserably hot. The day I took these was already hot and the heat waves were definitely impacting photo quality.