I've been learning about collecting dead wood from trees which are easy enough to identify in summer (lack of leaves) but is there a way of identifying dead wood that also works in winter?
I find this fairly easy, but not as easy to explain. Knowing the types of trees and how they usually look helps a lot, dead branches will usually stand out a fair bit in my experience.
- Loss of bark.
- If having a closer look, check if there are healthy looking buds, in many species they fall off or dry out if the branches are dead.
Lack of thinnest branches, these may have already broken of by colliding into other branches by the wind.
Fungi, if there's fungi the wood is usually dead or dying, but possibly not dry.
If you're not sure .. it's not very damaging to peel of a little bit of bark or bend a branch a little bit to see whether it's still elastic or not.