are foxgloves poisonous to birds

If there’s one thing you shouldn’t put your fingers in it is the flowers of a poisonous plant. Foxgloves are perhaps one of the most colourful flowers at The Lodge, and right now (17 June) huge swathes of them are flowering on the newly formed slopes where the derelict brick wall was taken down.

They appear wherever there is a gap in the tree canopy above; if a tree falls, or a glade is made by felling trees, then foxgloves often become the dominant plant for a year or two. It makes me wonder how long the seed lives for; if the plant suddenly appears whenever there is light, it suggests the seed may lie dormant for long periods, lying in wait for the right conditions, which could be decades! Heather seed is similar in nature: it is known to remain viable for sixty or so years, until the seed case is broken down by chemicals found in smoke. So, a heathland fire can ‘switch on’ the next generation of heather seed, ready to sprout. Foxglove seed in contrast might be awoken by light.

Foxgloves are a great flower for insects: moths and bumble bees love them, and it’s worth watching the spires of ‘bells’ to see the bees crawling into the finger like flower tubes to collect nectar. Don’t be deceived though – as I wrote at the beginning, foxgloves are deadly poisonous to humans, and ingesting even a small quantity could slow our heart rate dangerously, so leave them for the bees.

The common name ‘foxglove’ is a bit of a mystery. The ‘glove’ could be from the glove-finger shaped flower tubes. The ‘fox’ part could be from the name ‘Fuchs’ – a plant classifier who recorded foxgloves in the 1600s (the garden flower ‘Fuschia’ is also named for him). However, as the name was around centuries before Mr Fuchs that seems very unlikely! Perhaps a more convincing origin is ‘folk’s gliew’ (a gliew was an instrument with several small bells, a sort of bell glockenspiel), so you might translate foxglove as ‘the people’s bells’, or ‘fairy folk’s bells.

If you visit The Lodge today, take a look at the beautiful foxgloves on the roadside bank and in the woods where we’ve thinned out conifers and created some glades. But whatever you do, don’t touch!

The Relationship Between Birds and Foxgloves

Foxgloves are plants that bloom during the summer. However, because of their beauty, they tend to draw in a lot of creatures over time. Birds, bees, and most other insects are drawn to the stunning hue of the foxglove petals. It’s interesting to note that the foxglove nectar requires the flowering plant to tend to numerous species on a daily basis that crave it. The ruby-throated hummingbird is one of the most common species, as was previously mentioned.

However, are foxgloves poisonous to birds? Yes. If they feed on any part except the nectar. If this error occurs, the poisonous plants will respond to the birds. The foxgloves tolerate birds before we learn about their side effects, but they prefer other insects, such as bees. These insects draw birds, which presents an opportunity for the foxgloves to injure them. Although common across many continents, foxglove plants only flourish in climates that are conducive to their growth. A good example is in the united states. The larger foxglove species found in the United States, in contrast to those found in Europe, enable birds, particularly those with long beaks, to drink nectar.

4.Do birds avoid poisonous plants?

Instinctively, birds avoid poisonous plants by all means. On the other hand, some plants are extremely toxic even in small amounts. For instance, even the smallest amount of the foxglove plant is extremely poisonous. Additionally, most of these plants taste bitter, so after tasting them for the first time, some birds will usually avoid them.

6.How toxic is a plant to a bird?

When consumed by birds, plant toxicity levels are primarily determined by three factors. This comprises the kind of plant involved, the quantity of poison consumed in relation to the bird’s size, and the bird’s species. Some birds have an immunity to particular poisons, while others cannot tolerate the levels of toxicity due to genetic issues.


Is it OK to touch foxglove?

All parts of the foxglove plant are toxic to animals and people. Even inhaling the pollen can cause an adverse reaction in some people. The leaves have fine hairs that can cause a rash that can last for two to three weeks.

Which plants are toxic to birds?

Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
Roots, leaves, berries
Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)
Stem, leaves, sprouts, green skins
Rhododendron (Rhodedendron simsii), Rhododendron species (Azalea)
All parts
Tobacco (Nicotiana spp.)
All parts

Is it safe to grow foxgloves in my garden?

It is certainly not dangerous to anybody or animals to touch,” he explains. Still, if foxgloves grow in your midst be sure to keep an eye on young children or pets who tend to put things in their mouths, just in case. A closeup of some foxgloves in California.