Have you noticed these large types of nests in North Dakota trees over the years?

I know I have, and to be honest I figured they are some sort of large nest for a bird right?  An eagle, hawk, or some type of raptor was my guess.

I also consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the North Dakota outdoors and the critters who inhabit our great state.

I can identify in the field every duck, goose, or upland game bird that calls North Dakota home.  Same with our big game and other animals in our state.

Then, I came across an article online from WWLP TV that made me realize maybe I don't know it all.

As it turns out, these large nests in trees I've been observing in North Dakota aren't housing who I thought.

These nests may have started out as bird nests but had been taken over by squirrels.  Mind blown, that's right a squirrel.

There's even a name for these large clumps of leaves and other debris to make this nest.  They are called dreys.

A drey can be up to one to two feet wide and and typically located more than 20 feet up in the tree. You will often find these types of nests in Oak trees because as you probably know, squirrels love nuts.  An Oak tree produces an easy food source for squirrels...acorns.

The four major species of squirrels that we have in North Dakota are the Eastern Grey Squirrel, the American Red Squirrel, the Fox Squirrel (very common around Bismarck Mandan), and the Northern Flying Squirrel (found mostly in the Red River Valley).

The drey you are looking at in this article was a picture I took in Cottonwood Park off Burleigh Road where I observed several drey nests.

Squirrels will use these dreys all year long, but especially during the winter months to keep them out of the frigid temperatures.  I think there's a common misconception that squirrels in North Dakota hibernate, but that isn't true (only ground squirrels).  They're actually active all winter long, but much like humans, they only like to venture out in the wintertime if it's a nice day.  Living in North Dakota, can we blame them?

Here's a look at the four types of tree squirrels we have in North Dakota that make drey nests.

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