It's almost springtime in the Midwest, meaning warmer temps will soon bring more nature back to life. With the warmer temps come more plants and flowers and animals scurrying around. And you may have noticed more nests being built high above the tallest branches in Michigan and Ohio trees. What looks like massive birds' nests are home to a different small creature.


Piles Of Leaves In MI And OH Trees Are Not A Bird's Nest

So if those piles of leaves and sticks in trees aren't a home for birds, what are they, and how did they get there? The clumped-together collections of leaves, twigs, bark, moss, and fur are called "dreys". They can be confused with birds' nests but are homes built by squirrels. Dreys are usually built into tree cavities or around tree branches at least 20 to 30 feet high to help protect against ground predators and the elements. They also offer immediate access to food like nuts and seeds.

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What makes dreys and birds' nests even more confusing is that sometimes squirrels and birds adopt and adapt each others' nests. A nest can pass back and forth between the squirrels and birds for several seasons. According to Woodland Trust, there are a couple key differences between the two homes:

A good clue is whether there are any leaves woven into the nest, as squirrels tend to keep them but birds don’t. Birds also usually nest closer to the top and further out along the branches.

While we may see dreys throughout the year, squirrels usually build them in the fall and summer months.


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