Now that the trees have shed their leaves, it's very easy to spot a bunch of leaves up in the branches.

Most of us assume it's a bird's nest. Why wouldn't we?

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By the way, it very well may be. However, it could be something completely different.

It may not be a nest at all. It could be a drey.

What is a drey?

Simply put, it's a squirrel nest.

According to the Massachusettes Audobon Society, Eastern Gray squirrels, Red squirrels, and Northern and Southern Flying squirrels all build these dreys.

They differ from bird's nests in a couple of ways.

Dreys are almost always at least 20 feet off the ground for the best protection from predators.

Also, squirrel dreys are amazingly constructed with soft materials like moss or pine needles.

Isn't it fascinating that so many creatures instinctively know how to build these creations?

It's worth mentioning that dreys are way bigger than your average bird's nest.

In fact, they can be a foot to two feet wide.

One will find a squirrel drey near the trunk of a tree.

This part is extra interesting.

The reasoning for the positioning is so squirrels can enter the drey through the trunk. Pretty cool, right?

In the colder months, some squirrels will use the same tree for shelter, just inside the tree.

Will squirrels use an existing bird's nest that has been abandoned?

In some cases, yes.

They will put on additions to the house if you will, that is if the location is suitable.

So, look up. If you see what looks to be a giant bird's nest, it may actually be a squirrel drey.

Want to explore this winter, but want to stay comfy? Check these places out.

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Gallery Credit: Laura Ratliff

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