Here's to another botched identification! Live and learn! :-) I had originally identified the Beaked Hazelnut, Corylus cornuta, as Yellow Birch, so here's a link to those updated posts.
From Nut Growing:
"Hazels belong to a very ancient family, and some of the fossil hazel leaves are hardly to be distinguished from those of species which are living today. The American hazels comprise two species, Corylus americana and Corylus cornuta—the latter being called the "horn hazel," "beak hazel," "tail hazel," and other names referring to the shape of the involucre, which extends out into a prolongation beyond the apex of the nut. The quality of the kernel is inferior to that of the common American hazel. This latter species constitutes almost a weed and a nuisance in miles of old pasture, bearing a nut of good quality as a rule, but seldom large enough to be of value in the market. The shell is for the most part too thick to please any connoisseurs aside from jays, boys, and squirrels. Doubtless a number of thin-shelled, large-meated American hazels will be found eventually and I have two varieties which are being cultivated experimentally, because they are superior to the common hazel crowd out in the pasture."
Morris, Robert T. Nut Growing. New York 1921. 203. Web. Google Book Search. 11 Jul 2009.