The Trees Reveal Summer’s Secrets

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)

6 thoughts on “The Trees Reveal Summer’s Secrets

  1. Something I noticed thru the winter, the birds, esp the Downy WP and Tufted Titmice, like to rip the nest apart…does this mean a bad winter since it’s so high in the tree? Amazing how they can be right above your head after you have been mowing under them all summer. I was weeding one year and didn’t see the one hidden in my larch tree…these guys got me by surprise, esp since I was only less than 2 feet away….if near the ground, skunks and raccoons will take care of them also…when I find yellow jacket nests in the ground, I will put something strong like tuna water or sardines for the critters to find the nest. Don’t know they don’t get stung, or maybe they do, but they do take care of the nest…(put the tuna water in later in the evening when it’s cooler.)

  2. I don’t have any of these nests, but I did see such a big one in Schenley Park near the Oval. Should we be taking these down?


  3. Boy I thought maybe they wintered over in them or something, so they are just empty up there. Curious. So I guess we have to watch the ground holes when it is warm in midwinter in case of watching where we walk so we don’t get stung or something. Today I had many errands to run but when I came home there were 2 hawks of some kind up overhead just soaring & floating & sqawking at each other, looked like they were enjoying the lovely day as I had been. Watched them for at least half hour. Lovely way to enjoy the time outside.

  4. Good news…since we have been wondering when we can go near the front bushes for months! Seems it might be wasps most likely, but even so, it is good to know that the nests will be gone.

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