The silver maples (Acer saccharinum) are starting to bloom. These wind pollinated flowers are born in tiny clusters at the ends of branches.
Like most wind pollinated tree species, the silver maple deploys its flowers before it leafs out in the spring. This is so that the trees canopy does not interfere with optimal pollen spreading. Also, like many wind pollinated flowers, these ones are not particularly showy. What they lack in showiness, the make up for in audacity. The pompom like appearance of these flowers comes from the fact that they are literally just dangling their male-bits (stamen) in the wind. Again, this helps them spread their pollen farther.
Silver maple is a fast growing tree native to river floodplains. Its seedlings require nearly full sunlight. It flowers so early in the season so that it can quickly grow and disperse its seeds before the canopy closes.
For those of you keeping track, last year I posted about silver maples blooming on April 1st. Though, based on those pictures, the flowers were a little farther along at that point.