The trees are bare in Pittsburgh. Last week we had a day of rain followed by gusty winds ... and that was that. All gone by November 18.
Now that the leaves are down you can see what they hid all summer. Easiest to find are large nests of sticks or leaves but there are plenty of other treasures, some large, some small.
Yesterday I found this hornets' nest. It's so far up in the maple tree that my photo doesn't give you a sense of scale but it's huge. Only a bird, a snake, or a squirrel could reach it but they won't do so while the nest is occupied. Hornets vigorously defend their nests!
By now the hornets are gone. Most have died and the juvenile queens have left to hibernate underground, under logs, or in hollow trees. Since hornets use their nests for only one breeding season, this is the time of year when it's safe to collect a hornets' nest for display.
Take time now to look for summer's secrets. By winter's end the nests will be weathered and broken. Look hard and you might find the tiny, camouflaged cup nest of a ruby-throated hummingbird.
(photo by Kate St. John)