The two common squirrels found in Chicago are gray squirrel and fox squirrel. Both remain relatively active in the winter – they don’t hibernate! In periods of extreme cold, squirrels take shelter in their nests and will be inactive for periods of time.
The late fall and winter are great times for making squirrel observations. The bare winter trees provide a chance to spot squirrel nests – called dreys! A drey is a squirrel nest in a tree made of sticks and dry leaves. They are typically relatively high in trees – at least 20 feet from the ground. Once you know what to look for, they are easy to spot and common in neighborhoods and parks.
Take a walk together and look for squirrels and dreys nearby. Check out what we found on our walk in the pictures below. Consider making a squirrel map along the way. Add each drey and squirrel sighting to your map!
- What are the squirrels doing?
- What do you notice about the dreys?
- How many dreys can you spot?
- Where are the dreys located?
Making Our Own
For a fun squirrel activity – play like a squirrel and make your own drey! Indoors or outdoors, you can pretend to be a squirrel architect.
Outdoors: Make a realistic model of a drey using twigs and dry leaves on the ground. Can you make your model the right size for squirrel?
Indoors: Make an imaginative model of a drey using blankets and pillows. Can you pretend you are squirrel taking shelter on a very cold day?
Check out what we found on our “drey discovery” walk! Can you spot the dreys?
Want to learn even more about squirrels? Check out this special episode of Curious By Nature!