During the winter we don't see as many animals as in the warmer months, but there are still signs of furry friends hanging around if you know where to look.

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Wintertime

This time of year we don't typically see a lot of colorful, lush flora.  In the winter months, trees no longer have their leaves, the grass doesn't really grow, and everything is just kind of brown and gray.   It's also the time of year when many of our furry animal friends hunker down to stay warm, so we don't see them nearly as much.  While animals like squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits don't hibernate, they are very good at laying low in the wintertime.   However, if you look closely, there are still signs of these animals hanging around.

Photo by Nikita Nikitenko on Unsplash
Photo by Nikita Nikitenko on Unsplash
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What Are Those Globes of Leaves?

One thing about trees losing their leaves is that we can see things that we normally wouldn't.  For instance, have you ever looked up at a tree and noticed a globe of leaves?  What is that?  I always assumed it was probably some type of nest, but I wasn't sure.  It turns out, I was right! If you see one of these globes of leaves in your trees, leave it alone, it's just a nest for our squirrel friends.  It's a type of nest called "dreys." So if you see one, let our squirrel friends be!

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Indiana Department of Natural Resources recently posted about squirrels and signs of them throughout the colder months, including sharing some really interesting information about their nests.

SQUIRRELS: Even during winter months, you are bound to see evidence of tree squirrels being active near you. The four species of tree squirrels in Indiana do not hibernate and they fight to survive. Fortunately, their food sources of buried nuts or seeds, tree buds, and fungi help them through this scarce time.
Squirrels leave signs that we can pick up on if we look in the right places. Have you ever noticed odd scrapings in the bark of large trees, but just one side? Those are the territorial signposts fox and gray squirrels make to mark their territories. (Left photo).
Have you ever noticed those globes of leaves way up in the tree tops? Those are called “dreys”, or squirrel nests that keep them warm through winter. (Bottom right photo).
Have you ever spotted squirrel tracks in snow, mud, or loose soil? These tracks can help you identify where these animals are scurrying about in search of food. (Top right photo)
For an in-depth exploration of squirrel background plus examples of these tracks and sign, please visit bit.ly/4b79lia.

 

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Gallery Credit: Dom DiFurio & Jacob Osborn

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