While out walking the byways of Michigan, I'd spotted these same blooms high up in a tree. I couldn't get close enough by any means for a better look, and I couldn't imagine what tree possessed such lovely blooms in February. Later while on a walk in Cleveland, I saw them again and was able to get a better look.
Turns out it's a tulip poplar, a tree native to these Midwest parts, that grows tall and lovely. It's leaves are of a distinct shape (like a tulip, in fact) and it's blooms (again reminiscent of the tulip) arrive in late spring. These are the seed pods decorating the branches most spectacularly.