Spring is finally here and nature is back at it.

This is the time of year when we see nests pop up in our trees (wasps' nests around our gutters and doors, ick). It's a lovely part of spring to see robins, bluebirds, or sparrows hovering around their nests outside in our yards as they lay eggs and watch over their young.

Nests can look different, so I've always assumed that a clump of leaves in a tree during the spring is just a bird's nest. Because what else is going to smush stuff together in a tree and nest up there?

Wrong. Those bundles of leaves are called a drey and they have many purposes.

What's Actually In The "Nest"


These things become kind of prime real estate for some animals, especially ones that can climb. Geography Realm says that, when you see these large clumps of leaves in trees, they're often used as hideaways for squirrels.

They're shaped like a saucer and shallow. Squirrels mostly hide there but the drey doubles as a nest for them too, since that's where they can raise their young and sleep safe. It also gives them some weather protection during the rainy spring season.

Dreys do often start out as birds' nests. But once they move out, the squirrels don't want to waste the useful thing that the birds made, so they add on some leaves and make it a drey for themselves. The bare branches that birds use can't hide squirrels so they pack on the leaves too.

So if you see an influx of squirrels all over your birdfeeders this spring, look at the trees in your yard for a bundle of leaves. There's a good chance that's a drey and that's where the squirrels are coming from.

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