Squirrel nests are called “dreys.” Not sure why I never knew that before — guess I didn’t need a special name for them, since “squirrel nest” fit the bill. But I saw so many today on my walk that I decided to Google “squirrel nests” and see if that’s actually what they are, these lumps of leaves high up in trees that are exposed now that it’s fall.
I got the clever “Dreys of our lives” headline from New Hampshire Public Radio. Some guy named Scott Fitzpatrick from New Hampshire Audubon did a show or still does a show called “Something Wild.” (Ooo, that’s about as racy as public radio gets!) I quote: “Grey squirrels generally prefer to build their nests in tree cavities, but when those are scarce or already occupied, they’ll build leaf nests near the tops of large trees. A platform of twigs forms the floor of the drey, which is covered by an outer shell of leaves and twigs. Moss, grass, shredded bark and sometimes even cloth or feathers line the inner chamber. Finished nests are one to two feet in diameter.”
Apparently, squirrels stay active all winter, and actually do their mating in January and February. “The pregnant female rests in the drey. Up to three young are born around forty days later. In summer, less sturdy dreys are built by female squirrels to house a second batch of babies until they are ready to leave the nest.”
Another nice image: “Squirrels … will spend several days in the nest during particularly cold or stormy weather. Several female squirrels may den together for warmth, and a cold male might even try to get himself invited in.”