How many times have you been driving down the 219 or along the 90 and seen a huge ball of leaves in a tree and assumed it was a bird's nest?  It might be something more.

We see them all the time here in Western New York.  They're big balls of leaves that sit in the crevices of trees.  Normally you'll find them at the crotch of a tree where the branches meet the trunk.  Chances are, that's not a bird's nest up there, but it is a home.

That ball of leaves is called a drey

There's a good chance that those leaves didn't end up there by accident.  While they might look like they just got stuck in that spot, they may have been placed there very strategically by something other than the wind or the birds.

It's called a drey, and it's a home that was made by a small animal.  Normally they're made by squirrels like Eastern Gray Squirrels, Red Squirrels, and Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels.  But they can also be the home to animals like ring-tail possums.

What is a drey made of?

It's made from exactly what it looks like.  It's normally sticks, dried mud, grass, and leaves.  They look bigger than bird's nests because in many cases, they are.  Sometimes big birds like eagles and hawks might make nests that size, but for the most part, normally a bird's nest in New York will be smaller than a drey.

How is it different from a bird's nest then?

If it's made of twigs, grass, and leaves, what makes it different from a bird's nest?  Aren't those the things that birds use too?

According to Mass Audubon, the difference is that a drey kind of has a roof.  It's a ball of leaves with a hole in it near the trunk of the tree (so they can get in and out).  While a bird's nest would be open on the top, a drey is more of a ball.

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