After a weekend of above freezing temperatures and bright sunshine -- yay! -- here's a sign of spring you might see on the dwindling snow.
These are sycamore seeds, about a half inch long. They've been in seed balls on the trees throughout this long, rough winter.
By now the binding that holds the balls together is weak and the goldfinches are hungry. The finches pull apart the balls and eat what they can but the rest floats to the ground. The tiny hairs help the seeds disperse in the wind so instead of a big clump you'll find them littering the snow.
Watch for the seeds in your neighborhood. You'll find sycamores with their distinctive peeling bark near water sources, especially near creeks. In Pittsburgh our London plane trees are similar to sycamores and you'll see this same seed effect below them.
Thanks to Marcy Cunkelman for reminding me to watch for this. Yes, spring is on its way.
(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)