At first glance, they look like curious, minuscule insect nests. Tiny baskets, holding a collection of
‘eggs,’ clinging to a dead log at the edge of Deer Creek.
Identification investigations revealed something more interesting than ‘just’ insects. Bird’s Nest Fungi – Nidulariaceae, Cyathus stercoreus – mushrooms that use raindrops to propagate.
Moving with the Rain
Raindrops aren’t the only way they move from place to place. At the base of the peridiole (spore sack) is a cord that unfurls when disturbed. Like newborn spiders, these cords are long and sticky. They cling to whoever or whatever passes by.
Anatomy of a Fungus
Once the peridiole drops off or is eaten and excreted by an animal, the spores are released to begin a new life cycle.
The ‘nests’ are approximately five millimeters in diameter, about half the size of a pencil top.
Bird’s Nest Fungi can be seen in late winter and early spring. Look for them in shady places growing on dead or decomposing wood.
Wikipedia – Bird’s Nest Fungi – Nidulariaceae