When most people think of trees in California, they think of palm trees or redwood trees, but those who have visited or live there, know that that isn't the case. While yes, there are plenty of both, there are normal trees like everywhere else. There are many evergreens, but mixed in are trees like you see anywhere. While the trees in California don't see their leaves fall like most states, they have the same critters living in them. While it might be tough to see through full trees, you may have noticed a bundle of leaves near the top from time to time but might be shocked to find out that it doesn't belong to a bird. Are these leaves that attempted to fall and got caught in the tree, or what are these bundles sitting atop many trees in the Golden State?

Birds Not Only Thing Living in California Trees

Fat Squirrel in Backyard
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Some trees have leaves that fall in California, but not as much as in other states. The trees rarely go bare in the Golden State, but with the leaves thinner, you may notice bundles of leaves near the top of certain trees and think you have birds calling your tree home. You may, but this bundle of leaves does not belong to them. What you are seeing, is known as a drey. This is a squirrel nest where they sleep, eat, and have their babies. They are there year around but are typically easier to notice in the colder months, once certain trees have thinned out. 

What is A Drey?

Credit: Jeff
Credit: Jeff

A friend of mine recently asked what the bundle of leaves was in the top of my tree, and asked if it was a bird's nest. I was surprised to find out he didn't know what it was. He wasn't entirely wrong though. Dreys are old bird nests that squirrels move in and take over, once the birds have moved on. They do some slight construction so that their drey meets their preference, and move in. It is the same as moving into your neighbor's home after they have moved out and reconstructed it to make it to your liking. They use twigs and leaves to construct what you see high above in the trees. 

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The next time you are out for a walk, take a look up and see if you notice a drey in your area. There might be some in your backyard, your front yard, or in your neighbor's yard and you haven't noticed before, or perhaps didn't know what it was. If doing some yard work and cutting down branches, leave ones with a drey alone, as you will be knocking down someone's home.

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