What Is It Wednesday: Squirrel Nest

What it is: Squirrel Leaf Nest

Also known as: a Drey

If you’ve been in Ontario, you’ve seen a squirrel. Red, black, grey – we’ve got them in abundance! But have you ever given much thought to what they live in?

For squirrels, you will come across two types of nests: tree cavity dens and leaf nests/dreys. The tree cavity den is exactly how it sounds – it’s a hole in the tree, either previously made by a woodpecker or naturally made through tree aging processes. Leaf nests are also exactly how they sound, but there is a little more to them. For instance, the nests themselves are made of more than just leaves! Starting with the nest floor, squirrels expertly weave twigs together to create a platform. On this platform, leaves and moss are packed in for structural reinforcement. More twigs are used to weave the spherical outer shell, which is then stuffed with more leaves, moss, etc. to create the bulky structure. To make it a little more comfortable, a touch of grass, leaves, and shredded bark are added to the inner sanctum. Squirrels build their nests at least 20 ft off the ground, typically forked between the trunk and a large branch, and their nests are much larger than most bird nests, making it easy to identify should you come across one.

In June and July, you’ll see squirrels actively collecting nest-building materials to teach their young how to build nests, but the real business starts up in the fall. Squirrels become extra busy building and fortifying their nests to keep them comfortable during the cold and wintery months.

Fun Fact: Squirrels often have more than one nest. One nest will be their main home site, but because of their busy, searching nature which takes them great distances from their home, squirrels will make 1-2 other nests. These nests will generally be used for emergency hiding places, resting, and extra food storage.