Our Winter Willow Observations-Buds, Galls, and Beavers

This was the week we made our winter willow observations. It’s been cold and snowy, but we put on our boots and hiked out to the willow we tied the string onto earlier in autumn. I’m glad we marked it with a string back in the autumn because right now all the willows look very similar.

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Here’s a photo of the willow, leafless and bare except for a few straggly brown leaves.

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Isn’t this color amazing? From a distance the willows are a rusty red but up close they are a bright orange. There are small buds just waiting to burst open once the season turns warmer.

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It was exciting to find a rose shaped insect gall on a branch. I learned all about this interesting creation last year and it’s still thrilling to discover another one this season.

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It looks like a wooden rose on the willow…so pretty.


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It’s no surprise to us that the beavers have been harvesting branches from the willows since the autumn season. You can see the evidence of their work in the image above. This is just another chapter in our beaver story…I’ve grown to appreciate their part of the habitat and its changing development.

It’s never too late to start your own year-long willow study, even if you didn’t start it back in autumn. Pick up here and join us! Click the graphic below to go to the original winter study challenge here on the Handbook of Nature Study.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Willow StudyPerhaps you don’t have any willows to study in your neighborhood, but I invite you to take a look at the winter seasonal nature study ideas I’ve collected over the years. You may just find a topic that interests your family and you can get started with your own year-long study. Click the graphic below and see the complete list.


Winter Season Nature Study – Seasonal Ideas



  1. Just had to say, enjoy the pics so much! We used to live in Central Oregon (Redmond) and I so enjoyed the rural surroundings and the expanse of big sky. We are now on the central Oregon coast which has its own charms. Anyway it was a nice surprise to see your move to Central Oregon from California. I homeschool our daughter in the Charlotte Mason way, so pick up inspiration from your website for our nature walks and journals. Thank you!

  2. Barb McCoy says:

    I love that we have so much sun here in Central Oregon…even on snowy days, the sun usually peeks through at some point. We thought of moving to the coast but I can’t take the gray days for very long. I love to visit the coast but I’m so happy living here in view of the mountains and the flat terrain. Thanks for your nice comment and I hope to continue to inspire your nature walks!

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