It would be a really tiny bird

crucibulum

You can see four immature fruiting bodies still covered with their epiphrams at the lower edge of this photo.

Found a cool fungus while weeding. It is less than a centimeter wide and was growing on bark mulch. Crucibulum, probably Crucibulum laeve but could easily be wrong due to the lack of access to a really competent mycologist. Anyway, it’s definitely genus Crucibulum. It’s called a bird’s nest fungus or a splash cup. They are saprobic, meaning they digest dead plant matter, which these guys are doing to the bark mulch. The “eggs” within the cup actually are eggs, if you’re sort of loose in your definition of egg. Technically they’re peridioles containing a buncha spores. Most of the fungus is spread out below ground in a  loose network of hyphae called a mycelium, which is pretty typical for a fungus. Eventually it becomes reproductively active, sending a fruiting body above the surface consisting of the “nest”  covered with a “lid” to protect the growing spores called an epiphram. At maturity the epiphram disintegrates, letting the peridioles dislodge, raindrops washing them out of their cups and hopefully onto a nice piece of dead wood. Hence the common name splash cup. Cool looking little bugger, isn’t it?

References

“Crucibulum.” Wikipedia, available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucibulum. Accessed October 16, 2015.

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