About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nest Identification

We noticed this nest in an apple tree in our front yard about 8 ft off the ground. I assume it’s a bird's nest as it’s made of twigs but we've not seen any activity around it. We live in East Central IL close to Champaign, IL. We are in farm country but have a fair number of trees around the house and lots of birds. We have never seen a next like this. The nest is sitting on the branch and is not a hanging next. Two views are from the front and one from the side. ~ Sylvia

I’m sorry I don’t know who built your nest. Some of the possible suspects that came to my mind immediately are Orchard Oriole, Carolina Wren or American Red Squirrel. All build dome-shaped grass nests in trees and live in your area. With your permission I’ll post the photos on my blog (http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/) and get some feedback that is more helpful. ~ Sarah

By all means, please post the pictures. I am really curious. I should add that it is highly unlikely that it would be a squirrel as we simply don't have them. I live on a 5 acre farmstead with 2 houses. We are surrounded by flat Illinois fields with the nearest semi-wooded area over a mile away. We did surprisingly see one squirrel this spring (first time ever) and no idea how it found its way here but that was the last sighting. It was gray in color. This nest is rather large (you can probably tell that). It probably about a foot long front to back and 6 or more inches tall. The hold is good sized as well - 1 to 2 inching in diameter I'd say from the best I can see. Thanks again for getting back to me. ~ Sylvia

It sounds more and more like a red squirrel nest or drey. The American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), both have nests that are about a foot in diameter, close to tree trunks or forks in branches. The nest is often made of shredded bark from a grapevine, twigs, grasses, cones or dead leaves. Squirrels also use holes in trees (often made by woodpeckers), or bird houses. Both squirrels are found in parks and backyards of houses within urban environments and in the farmlands of rural environments. Thanks for sharing your photos. I hope we get an expert that can ID the nest. ~ Sarah

Hummm - you could certainly be right. I just can't believe that we wouldn't have seen it. We are outside frequently and have never seen a squirrel out there. Still possible. May have been around long enough to build the nest and now is gone. ????

Is there a wildlife expert out there that can help us identify this nest?


Justis said...

I'm not an expert but it looks like a red squirrel nest to me. We watched a female build a nest in the spring and then she moved her family into an empty bluebird box when the babies were almost ready to leave the nest. I'm not sure why. Maybe the wood walls could contain the rambunctious babies easier.

By the way I love your to read the blog every day!

Matt said...

I work at a wildlife center in Michigan and when I look up and see great big balls of grass, I think red squirrel. They like conifers, but one squirrel will build several hideaways and I’ve seen them in lots of different trees. They also use nest boxes, tree cavities and underground tunnels as winter safe-spots. Last winter I saw a red squirrel shoot out of an underground hole, zip up a tree, pop in and out of its grass nest, and then disappear into a tiny crack in a maple tree. I mean really do they need that much energy. Matt