For several evenings we’ve been treated to a visit by two young bull moose. They are possibly last year’s calves, out on their own. Or maybe they’re just a couple of teenagers, hanging out together.
They were curious about our deck. One nibbled the edge but decided it wasn’t worth the bite. Then it was back to what they came for—tender willow leaves.
The bumps on their foreheads? This year’s antlers in the making. The skin, known as velvet, provides blood and nutrients to the growing bone beneath.
At last they have arrived. Photographers elsewhere have been posting pics of these harbingers of spring for weeks. But they live in warmer climes. Here, snow still lingers in the woods and water-filled ditches have been freezing at night until just recently.
Male flowers appear first.
As they unfold, stalk-like stamens appear which produce pollen. Unlike other catkin-producing plants, such as aspens, the pollen isn’t spread by wind. Instead both male and female flowers produce a strongly-scented nectar that attracts insects.
Willows provide bees, butterflies and flies with a welcome source of food — pollen and nectar — in early spring before other flowering plants have appeared.
Willow Salix spp.