Nesting time for our squirrels

Grey squirrels are building nests at this time of year. A squirrel’s nest is an untidy ball of sticks that looks so haphazard that you might wonder if it arrived there by accident: snapped twigs and dead leaves blown by the winter’s storm winds. It’s called a drey.

But the messy ball of sticks is carfully lined with all kinds of soft stuff: dried grasses, shredded bark, moss and feathers. It is cosy, weatherproof and designed to keep a litter of nestlings warm and safe through their fragile infancy.

Squirrels build high in the trees, at least six metres from the ground and often much higher. They build close to the tree trunk or in the fork of a sturdy branch where the tree is stronger and provides more support.

Sometimes they will use a naturally occurring hole in a tree, or an abandoned woodpecker’s nest, lined in the same way as the ball of sticks. Squirrel litters can be large and the babies are almost as big as their parents before they leave the nest so the hole has to be substantial.

The park houses a lot of grey squirrels; look up, find their nests and send us pictures.


Photographs by DKG unless otherwise attributed

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3 thoughts on “

  1. Why are you encouraging grey squirrels, they are a danger to our natural reds. Aren’t red squirrel populations getting dangerously low because of the greys.

    Surely you should getting rid of these pests and encouraging the natural reds back!

    1. I don’t think there are any viable populations of red squirrels left anywhere in Wiltshire. To bring any red squirrels back to the park would take a great deal more than just culling the greys. There is a post (https://southwickcountrypark.com/2018/08/10/grey-squirrel-invaders/) called Grey Squirrel Invaders on the website; it includes some of the latest research.
      The slow return of the pine marten might be significant; where the marten has become re-established, grey squirrel numbers have fallen dramatically.

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