Saturday 14 December 2013

Birch Seeds

     There are a lot of birch trees growing in the neighborhood, but I have never spent much time thinking about how they got there, but over the past week it has become very obvious--the snow is speckled with birch seeds.  They are tiny, almost bird-shaped, paper-thin, particles, which are thrown thrown in the wind like confetti. 

    I am sure this happens every year, but it has never been as obvious as it has been this winter.  I guess the birch trees benefited from the wonderful weather we had this summer, as much as all of the other plants.  During the summer the seeds are held in a “catkin” a small cone-like structure that you can see on the photo.  They dry out during the fall, and then in November and December they are dispersed.  Many are eaten by chickadees and grouse.
    I am sure the fact that they have fallen on the snow, makes them more visible, but I am astounded at just how many there are.  There must be millions and millions.  The lower photo is typical of the spread.  It shows a small area around two deer tracks that were out in my open pasture, imagine how many seeds can be seen closer to, and inside the forest, and of course there are still a lot of catkins, fully loaded, hanging on the trees.

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