When I drive home from work every day, I get a really nice view of the Maple tree in my yard as I pull into my driveway. For months now I've wondered about the ball of leaves near the top of the tree. When I first noticed it I thought the leaves hadn't quite fallen off the tree. It's been a strange winter in western Montana and I thought maybe the leaves were hanging on. 

Then I saw some crows hanging around. My dog barks at the sky when they fly over our house. I just assumed the nest belonged to them. But I stopped seeing the crows and the more I looked at the ball of leaves, I realized it didn't look like a nest. It was too big and it wasn't shaped quite right. 

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Squirrel Drey in Montana
Credit: Eric Warren

Do you know what else I have in my yard besides a Maple tree and crows? The other animal that likes to torment my dog? Squirrels. Sure enough, the ball of leaves in my tree is a squirrel's nest, but here's what I learned today: a squirrel's nest has a specific name. It's called a drey.  

Amusing Places Names for Animals

This led to a deep internet rabbit hole. I knew that groups of animals have interesting names, like a murder of crows, a parliament of owls, or a mischief of magpies, but I didn’t know until today that 

  • An eggery is a nest where eggs are laid, but a bird of prey’s nest is an aerie (or other myriad spellings that sound similar) 
  • A mousery is where mice live 
  • A penguinnry is where penguins live.  
  • A form is where rabbits nest (when they don’t burrow) 
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There are more common places names for animals like owlery, apiary, den, or lair, but I’d never come across a drey until I looked up squirrel’s nest today. I have a drey in my tree.  

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