Any Squirrel Experts Here?

After 30 years on this place, the critters still surprise me. I was just now walking back up to the house with my mail (mailbox is about 300 yards from the house down on the road) and I noticed a squirrel acting strangely up in a big oak tree. S\he seemed to be chewing on, look again: s\he was gathering leaves--and being very, very picky about which leaves to gather at that.

Then I looked further up the tree and saw the absolute largest squirrel nest I've ever seen--OK, so that's what the leaves are for. There are lots of squirrels around here, and they've built nests in most of the large oak trees.

But this one is not just the biggest squirrel nest around--and getting bigger by the minute--it's also in a really strange location. The other nests are secure in the crooks of big heavy branches. This one is out on the very tips of the branches, where the thin, flexible branches of two neighboring trees meet and cross over one another. It looks like Squirrely has woven branches from both trees together into this behemoth nest and is still building on it.

Anybody see squirrel behavior like this before? I'm wondering how a giant nest stretched over the thin end-branches of two trees is going to stand up to serious winter storms? Does the size of the nest mean Squirrely is expecting a really bad winter? Or maybe a big litter of babies? Or maybe just has an uncontrollable urge to outdo all the other squirrels?


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,356 admin

    @MaryRowe I think it just needs to keep up with the Jones'. It also needs a place to hoard as isolation wears on. 😄

    I really have no idea, but I bet it is strong enough to easily winter through.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin

    I've only seen that in hot summers, when they try to be in cooler spots.

  • Slippy
    Slippy Posts: 117 ✭✭✭
    edited December 2020

    Wouldn't call myself a Squirrel Expert, bu they taste pretty good in a Chili.

    BUT, I really prefer them prepared in what I call "Gourmet Style"...which is whole body (cleaned & dressed, decapitated, and partially de-limbed of course) cooked over a bed of Onions and Garlic with Worcestershire Sauce basted over the squirrel. Wrapped in Foil, Indirect heat, baked at 350 F for about 1 hour depending on size of the squirel. Baste every 10-15 minutes or so. Not a big fan of squirrel brains, but I know some folks who really like a nicely prepared plate of brains.

    Pairs well with a nice Chardonnay. Or just a Natural Light especially if its a nice warm early spring day...

  • dottile46
    dottile46 Posts: 437 ✭✭✭

    Folk lore around the Ozarks had several versions about being high up in the tree meant deep snow. Lower in the tree and more toward the center meant a great deal of high wind. The bigger, more insulated the nest supposedly meant that it was going to be colder than usual. Maybe this squirrel had to make it bigger for support since it is between two trees on the more flexible twigs.

    I've noticed squirrel nests in all locations on the trees this year. Some big and some small. Some out on the branches and some closer to the trunk.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,356 admin

    @Slippy You really need to chat with @judsoncarroll4.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin
    edited December 2020

    One of my favorite foods! When I roast or bake them, I usually throw in all the mushrooms I can find, onions, thyme, parsley and wine. I need to plant some chestnuts - that would be a great addition but they are so dang expensive... like $10 for a half pound at the store!

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    @dottile46 Thanks--I'm in Missouri, but north of the Ozarks and never heard that bit of folklore; that's interesting. But I don't think the squirrels on my place know about it either--they all go for big oak trees, usually mid-way up or occasionally at the top, against the trunk or at the first fork of a major limb. But we always have big winds in late winter and through the spring around here, so that's probably why they choose those spots.

    I don't remember seeing any nests out on the ends of branches around here before, so I can't figure out where this guy got the idea or the know-how to build that way. But I bet you are right: the nest probably has to be bigger for more support. The squirrel has to be weaving or tying those branches together in some way to keep them from pulling the nest apart when the wind blows.