These are acorns from the huge oak trees in our back yard. The acorns stay hidden under the fallen leaves all winter long. Eventually, it becomes warm enough and moist enough and they get their signal to sprout. The fallen leaves act like a "nest" for acorns until that perfect proper time comes for then to sprout. This is the beginning of a forest. One of the neatest things about these oak sprouts is that they already have the beginnings of bark. Notice the pattern on the sprout. It is a tad smaller than a pencil in diameter at this point and about 4 inches long if I could stretch it out. I imagine this sprout is about a week old. I pushed back some leaves to finds these sprouts. There are literally hundreds under the blanket of leaves but squirrels, birds and other wildlife know they are under there and only a few will survive. Life feeds on life.
This tiny nest belonged to a hummingbird. We were taking a walk in the woods last fall and as I stepped over a fallen log, I happened to look down and there, attached to a broken branch was this tiny nest. It stayed attached to the branch for a couple of months, but I guess it dried out too much and fell off. I put it in the branches of our Christmas tree and it fit on the limb perfectly. (Those tiny feathers came from another bird, by the way. Probably some type of wren.) I wish you could see how intricately fashioned this nest actually is. There are layers upon layers of thin sheets of what appears to be pieces of dry leaves. There is also some kind of animal fur lining the inside.
Here, beside the hummer's next is another nest I found recently. It is most interesting to me because it is made almost entirely from the long stiff hairs from the tails of the dairy cows that live in the big pasture just on the back side of our farm. At first, I thought it was from one of my Jack Russells, but I pulled one out and immediately recognized that it was from the cows. There are lighter colored ones on the top and darker ones on the sides and bottom. This next is as soft as a blanket. This one is a little bigger than the other one. The quarter is for reference as to the size of these tee-tiny nests.