Mystery Solved: What Are These Tiny Brown Things in the Snow in Maine?
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry put out a photo of brown specks in the snow. What did I think it was at first you ask? Crumbs from someone eating a cookie or something. But it wasn't.
Because that would mean everyone is outside making a mess out of their cookies because these brown spots are everywhere in Maine right now.
So if the brown spots aren't cookie crumbs, what are they? Thanks to The Maine Department of Agriculture the mystery has been solved!
They are nutlets from the catkins of the trees. I know, I laughed too. And get this, Catkins are female reproductive part of a birch tree. These nutlets or seeds fall from the birch trees.
When held together, the seeds, called “nutlets,” and bracts form the female reproductive part of the tree called a catkin.
This time of year these catkins start to break apart and the nutlets fly through the wind and eventually what goes up must come down. So they fall to the ground and that is the collection of brown dots you see.
The bracts are species-specific so their size and shape can give us clues as to whether they came from a gray, yellow, or paper birch. These small seeds are an important winter food source for Maine’s birds that don’t migrate south in the cooler months, such as our state bird, the chickadee.
You're welcome for solving this mystery, it was my pleasure to do so. I am going to go eat a cookie now.