Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!
Drey [DR-ei] (noun): The nest of a squirrel, typically in the form of a mass of twigs and leaves in a tree.
The leaves have started to drop and the High park squirrels are busier than ever! They begin construction of their dreys in the late summer/early fall, using small, gnawed off branches with green leaves, which are roughly weaved together to create a platform. On top of this, they’ll add soft, compressible materials, like damp leaves, soft moss, shredded bark, and pine needles to line the inside. Squirrels will also build an outer layer, using leaves, twigs, and vines, to keep the core of the drey insulated and to help shed water.
As the trees continue to drop more of their leaves, the squirrel dreys become easier to see. They are somewhere around 30 feet off the ground, where two tree limbs meet. You are also more likely to see them in oak trees, because they also provide the squirrels with some tasty acorns for snacking.
Adult squirrels will usually build a couple of dreys, to give themselves another shelter option if one of their dreys is disturbed by a predator or becomes overrun with fleas and lice.
Keep an eye out for squirrel dreys on your next Fall visit to High Park! They often get mistaken for bird’s nest, but if you look closely enough, you’ll notice that they are composed of far more leaves than a bird’s nest.