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Holly (Ilex) berries toxic to birds?

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  • Holly (Ilex) berries toxic to birds?

    I see wild birds eating holly berries as fast as they can, but most sites say they're toxic (to mammals, anyway). But are they food or poison to chickens?

    Sue

  • #2
    Re: Holly (Ilex) berries toxic to birds?

    There would also be the issue that even if it is fine for chickens, the toxin might be passed on to humans via eggs or meat, I don't know the answer to that.

    From what I've read the toxin is saponins which usually arn't considered to do notable damage to humans,( it seems possible there is not certainty about what the toxin in Holly berries actually is).

    Saponins are especially toxic to cold-blooded animals like fish, it is interesting that a widespread meathod for catching fish in tribal cultures is to put plants with saponins in water, the fish float to the top, then they eat the fish with no noticeable harm.

    Saponins are "generally non-toxic to mammals possibly because they are not readily absorbed from the intestines"( The Poisonous Plants in New Zealand. H.Conner 1992)............... doesn't mention it's affect on birds.

    Perhaps it would be wise to ask poison authorities/experts(I'm not one) if you can find them, I'd be interested to hear what they have to say. Chickens eating holly berries must have happened thousands of times.

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