breaking news

Parents of Otto Warmbier file wrongful death lawsuit against N. Korea

Did you know stampeding squirrels once overran Ohio, damaging crops?


When all those leaves fell off the trees one year, we were surprised to see a clump of dried leaves up high in the maple tree. We had seen these nests all over local subdivisions and woods but this was a first for us. We had a squirrel.

Oh, we had seen two squirrels running up and down the fence rows all summer but we had no idea that a secret construction project was going on behind the cover of our leafy green branches.

DETAILS: Cottrel: Take a closer look at moths, butterflies in Clark County

Looking up at the nest, it appeared to be no more than an armful of leaves loosely stuck between some branches. We expected it to fall apart but it didn’t. I couldn’t help but wonder how they put these together without thumbs. And how do the loosely organized nests stand up to these winter winds?

I called Donna Lewis, the naturalist at the Clark County Park District, in hopes that she would know. I caught her at the Davidson Center at 5638 Lower Valley Pike on the far eastern end of Bethel Twp.

As Lewis explained, we weren’t the only people surprised to find a squirrel nest in our tree when the leaves fell.

Squirrels make their nests, or dreys, out of debris — generally large leaves and branches on the outside and smaller softer layers on the inside. They generally build two nests just in case one is blown down by a storm. When I looked for it, I did see a second nest in a neighbor’s tree. Often the winter nests are in an upper fork of a tree and not in the thin top branches like the summer houses.

RELATED: New Year’s first full moon brings a deep winter chill

They also sometimes winter over in a hollow tree. Hopefully the elves don’t mind sharing.

When I searched online I found a beautiful drawing of a squirrel’s nest looking all rough and disorganized on the outside and lined with fur, dried grass, feathers and moss on the inside. It did look cozy. There was just enough room for a mama and a baby.

Squirrels are very resilient, Lewis said. Baby squirrels are able to survive a fall from the nest when they start exploring. Squirrels also love to solve problems

“I love the things that people do to try to stop the squirrels,” she said.

MORE BY PAM COTTREL: Cottrel: Clark County has plenty of local recreation options

I imagine I could fill this column with entertaining stories of how bird lovers spend most of the winter trying to outsmart the squirrels who rob their feeders.

But squirrels haven’t always been funny.

In the early 1800s, squirrels were a huge problem in Ohio. The population exploded in Kentucky and thousands of squirrels swam across the Ohio River to attack the corn fields of Ohio.

It was no lie, the great squirrel invasion. There were so many squirrels swimming across the river that they almost sunk one of Lewis and Clark’s canoes at one point. Really, it’s in the history books. Squirrel invasions, or stampedes, were a huge problem in Ohio and Indiana.

My great great great grandfather had to delay moving his family to his new farm because the squirrels had totally cleaned out the corn fields. The state of Ohio actually required that all farmers kill a certain number of squirrels. That had to be one of the strangest laws on the books.

Children with sticks in hand had to spend their day guarding fields from the squirrel invasion. And it was reported that clothing trimmed in squirrel fur was quite the height of fashion at that time.

I imagine the folks from 200 years ago would be amazed that some of us now put out corn to attract the squirrels to our yards and that the antics of these furry entertainers brighten our cold winter days.

And I find myself quite relieved that squirrel fur is no longer fashionable.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Musician Charles Neville of The Neville Brothers dead at 79
Musician Charles Neville of The Neville Brothers dead at 79

Musician Charles Neville, the brother of Aaron Neville and a member of the R&B funk group The Neville Brothers, has died. He was 79 years old. Aaron Neville confirmed the news to WWL Thursday. The 79-year-old was sick for some time, the station reported. He died at his Massachusetts home. >> Read more trending news  The New Orleans...
Parents of Otto Warmbier file wrongful death lawsuit against N. Korea
Parents of Otto Warmbier file wrongful death lawsuit against N. Korea

The parents of Otto Warmbier are suing North Korea in a 22-page complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Warmbier was a college student from Wyoming, Ohio, who was jailed in North Korea and died shortly after he was returned to the United States in a coma.  Fred and Cindy Warmbier, in the lawsuit, accuse Kim Jong Un's...
Video shows 2014 police shooting that killed ‘Cops’ crew member
Video shows 2014 police shooting that killed ‘Cops’ crew member

The judge in a wrongful death lawsuit against Omaha police officers who fatally shot two men in 2014 -- including a member of a “Cops” camera crew shadowing them -- has released footage that shows what happened inside a Wendy’s restaurant being robbed that night.  Officers fired more than 30 rounds in the fast food restaurant...
What a catch! Florida fisherman reels in giant 121-pound catfish
What a catch! Florida fisherman reels in giant 121-pound catfish

Florida fisherman Joel Singletary reeled in the granddaddy of all catfish. >> Read more trending news  Singletary caught the 121-pounder April 11 on the Choctawhatchee River, which flows into the sunshine state from Alabama.  The white-bellied fish, which weighs more than 1.7 times the current record of 69.5 pounds for a catfish caught...
Kelis says marriage with Nas had ‘a lot of physical and mental abuse’
Kelis says marriage with Nas had ‘a lot of physical and mental abuse’

Singer Kelis and Nas divorced nearly 10 years ago, but Kelis has revealed new information about her marriage to the rapper that has stunned many.  In an interview with Hollywood Unlocked posted Thursday, the singer opened up about her marriage to the rapper, alleging that there was infidelity and physical and mental abuse. The two met in 2002...
More Stories