do birds eat virginia creeper berries

The Virginia Creeper, scientifically known as the Parthenocissus quinquefolia, is a five-leafed woody vine that provides an abundance of food for hundreds of insects, birds and other wildlife. This green vine, which changes to a beautiful, purplish to bright red color in autumn, uses tendrils (slender, curling extensions) that have adhesive-like tips to rapidly attach themselves to structures, rough or smooth.

They have been found climbing as high up as 98 feet and are native to countries in the western hemisphere, including: Southeastern Canada and as far west as Manitoba, Canada; Eastern Mexico; Guatemala; the Eastern and Central parts of the United States and South Dakota, Utah and Texas.

During winter months, birds are not only attracted to the red leaves, but also to the bluish-black berries that the vine produces. More than 35 species of birds enjoy eating the Virginia Creeper’s berries, including: thrushes, woodpeckers, warblers, vireos, mockingbirds and other songbirds. While animals such as mice, skunks, chipmunks, squirrels, cattle and deer will munch on the leaves and stems of this vine, it is the insect class that relishes the plant.

The Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth, the Achemon Sphinx moth and the Grapeleaf Skeletonizer use the plant as its larvae host. The female Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth lays two to three eggs on the underside of the Virginia Creeper. In the fall the fully-grown caterpillars spin cocoons in the vine’s leaves. The adult Grapeleaf Skeletonizer lays eggs in clusters on the leaves. As the eggs hatch, the caterpillars begin eating the leaf tissue between the veins on the underside of the leaves. The tougher veins are left behind, creating a net-like skeleton. This destructive feeding process, also performed by Japanese Beetles, is called skeletonizing.

The berries of the Virginia Creeper are not poisonous to humans; however, they do contain oxalic acid, which when consumed will irritate your stomach and kidneys. The sap of the plant also contains oxalate crystals and can cause skin irritation and rashes in some people. Humans mostly use the plant for ornamental purposes, but it is also used to control soil erosion, to attract birds, and for a few medicinal purposes (the bark and twigs are made into cough syrup).

While the Virginia Creeper can be a beautiful lawn ornament, it can also harbor numerous species of insects, songbirds and wildlife. However, it can rapidly overpopulate your yard, so be wary when planting.

Exploring Nature’s Connections Search

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is at its showiest in autumn. This native vine’s bright scarlet leaves provide the ideal counterpoint to its ripening fruit. In places where it has found a platform to climb, it is particularly striking.

Typically, Virginia creeper can be found in fields, woodlands, and the edges of woods. It grows as a ground cover,.

but can also climb trees

and fences or arbors.

It climbs in a gentle way, using its tendrils. The tips of the tendrils can adhere to bark, fences, and arbors by forming a suction cup-like pad there.

Virginia Creeper flowers in midsummer when it receives enough sunlight.

Numerous bee species are drawn to the nectar and pollen that the flowers provide. If the bees are successful in helping the Virginia Creeper pollinate, late summer and early fall will see the development and ripening of berries.

Virginia Creeper’s fruit stems, or petioles, turn scarlet at the same time that its leaves change color, creating a stunning contrast with the fruit’s deep blue ripening. This vibrant display is a bird feeder, drawing in birds to enjoy the juicy fruit. The Virginia Creeper has adapted to draw in animals that will consume its fruit and then spread its seeds. After passing through the animal’s digestive system, the seeds are eventually left behind in a different place, complete with organic fertilizer.

A variety of birds congregate at this autumnal food source, including Woodpeckers, Titmice, Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Thrushes, Robins, Catbirds, and more. I recently observed Eastern Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, and a few sparrows enjoying the bounty of Virginia Creeper on a fall day.

Though they are easily distinguished from one another, Virginia creeper is occasionally confused with poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) due to its habitat, climbing habit, and color. The scientific name “quinquefolia,” which means “five-leaved,” refers to the compound leaves of Virginia Creeper, which have five leaflets compared to three on those of poison ivy.

While the bark of Virginia creeper is not hairy, mature poison ivy vines have extremely hairy stems. The exfoliating bark of Virginia creeper is similar to that of other members of the Grape (Vitaceae) family. The bark may be used by birds for nesting material.

Other traits that the Virginia creeper shares with its relatives Its fruit clusters, for instance, might resemble a cluster of grapes.

Additionally, several moth species’ caterpillars that feed exclusively on members of the grape family use Virginia creeper as a food source. Among them are the regal-looking Eight-spotted Forester,.

and the Grape-leaf Skeletonizer.

The caterpillars might successfully complete their transformation, or they might end up as food for local birds or other creatures. For birds, insects—especially caterpillars—are a major source of food.

Virginia Creeper is also known by the common name Woodbine. It is indigenous to the eastern two thirds of both Canada and the United States.

The Virginia Creeper offers fruit, caterpillars, and nesting materials at different times of the year. Its thick canopy of leaves can serve as a useful hiding place. What more could a bird ask for?.


Rhoads, Ann Fowler; Block, Timothy A. The Plants of Pennsylvania. 2007.

Stearn, William T. Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names. 1996

The Virginia Creeper, or Parthenocissus quinquefolia in scientific parlance, is a woody vine with five leaves that feeds a multitude of insects, birds, and other wildlife. This green vine, which transforms into a stunning purplish-red color in the fall, quickly clings to smooth or rough surfaces with the help of tendrils—slender, curling extensions with tips that resemble glue.

Native to countries in the western hemisphere, they have been observed ascending as high as 98 feet. These countries include Southeastern Canada and Manitoba, Canada; Eastern Mexico; Guatemala; the Eastern and Central regions of the United States; and South Dakota, Utah, and Texas.

In the winter, birds are drawn to the bluish-black berries that the vine yields in addition to the red leaves. The berries of the Virginia Creeper are enjoyed by over 35 different species of birds, including woodpeckers, thrushes, warblers, vireos, mockingbirds, and other songbirds. Although mice, skunks, chipmunks, squirrels, cattle, and deer will eat the leaves and stems of this vine, the plant is most enjoyed by the insect class.

In addition to being a lovely lawn ornament, the Virginia Creeper is home to a variety of insects, songbirds, and other wildlife. However, be cautious when planting because it can quickly overrun your yard.

The plant serves as the larval host for the Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth, Achemon Sphinx Moth, and Grapeleaf Skeletonizer. Two to three eggs are laid on the underside of the Virginia Creeper by the female Sphinx Moth. The mature caterpillars spin cocoons in the leaves of the vine in the fall. On the leaves, the mature Grapeleaf Skeletonizer deposits clusters of eggs. The caterpillars start devouring the leaf tissue between the veins on the underside of the leaves as soon as the eggs hatch. The tougher veins are left behind, creating a net-like skeleton. Skeletonizing is the term for this destructive feeding process that Japanese Beetles also engage in.


Are Virginia creeper berries poisonous to birds?

Although animals sometimes eat the berries of Virginia creeper, they’re unlikely to poison your pet. But they may sicken pet birds like budgerigars (parakeets).

What birds like Virginia creeper berries?

Birds that eat Virginia creeper berries include chickadees, nuthatches, mockingbirds, finches, flycatchers, tanagers, swallows, vireos, warblers, woodpeckers, and thrushes.

Can animals eat Virginia creeper berries?

Wildlife: The berries of this plant are eaten by many animals especially birds. Animals such as mice, skunks, chipmunks, squirrels, cattle and deer will munch on the leaves and stems.

Do squirrels eat Virginia creeper berries?

The Virginia creeper berries are eaten by a host of animals — bluebirds, cardinals, chickadees and turkeys love them. Mice, skunks, squirrels and deer eat them also. Unfortunately they are poisonous to humans.