Sometimes I feel like I’m living in an animal house, or at least in the middle of a zoo. Being a National Wildlife Federation certified wildlife garden, I do encourage wildlife to feel comfortable in my one acre limestone hillside garden.
There are small ponds for water. Bird feeders with a variety of treats and oak trees comfortable enough for homes.
One such tree is located outside my den. I can see it from the house and often start my morning looking at it out of my den windows. Over the years, hand-raised Robins have serenaded me from those tree branches. I have had an owl perched on one of the top branches and, most recently, watched a squirrel nesting.
Squirrel nests in Missouri are easy to see, especially in winter. With leaves off trees, the pile of nests are easy to spot. Most tend to be built towards the top of trees, at least in my garden.
My best guess is this is the largest of the 4 native Missouri squirrels. The fox squirrel, also known as the eastern fox squirrel or Bryant's fox squirrel, is the largest species of tree squirrel native to North America.
It has very sharp claws, a muscular body, and a long, fluffy tail. The most common fur color for a fox squirrel is reddish-brown, but color can vary greatly from overall pale gray to black with white feet. The fur on its belly is always lighter in color than the rest its body. Often a fox squirrel will have reddish hairs tipped with brown.
These animals are most often found in forests with open understory, or in urban neighborhoods with trees. They prefer to live among oak, hickory, walnut and pine trees, storing nuts for winter. They shelter in leaf nests or tree dens, but will sometimes make an attic their home if they find a way inside.
This particular morning we were enjoying a sunny day with temperatures a little warmer than usual.
As I peeked out of my den window, there was a squirrel, also enjoying the warm sunshine.
Grey squirrels are frequent visitors to my garden. This one has apparently decided my garden is a good place to nest. And rest!