Animals that Build Big Nests in Trees

There is a massive Oak Tree in my yard. Basically, over the past few days, between a spot about 30 feet high where three branches grow out in different directions, a nest has been started at the base. It is quite large, and is gaining size and height by the day. It almost looks like a large owl nest. The reason why I am confused is because I have not seen or heard the animal building the nest. During the day: nothing. At night when I check through my window: nothing. Even my trail camera and sound recordings get nothing unusual. Any ideas? Thanks!

I forgot to mention, it seems to be built with mainly just sticks.

i think raptors tend to build big stick nests up high (aeries, or similar spelling). herons are pretty distant cousins but do similar. there are probably more, depending on your part of the world.


It would be near to impossible to id without seeing an actual nest.


Location also.


@alex2537: You don’t have to see the animal to post the nest as an observation on iNat. Just take some photos from various angles and add the observation, along with your best assessment of a likely ID. Just Aves (Birds) is fine.

You might want to add your observation to the Eggs & Nests (N. America) project, which could help you find someone who can suggest a likely ID.

Good luck!


Also possibly a squirrel nest.


Yes, as @Terrybb mentioned, it sounds like a squirrel or pack rat nest. BTW, pack rats are not the same as Norwegian rats. Indeed, the ones I’ve seen looked a bit like hamsters x rats, cute. I have a couple such nests here, which I assume are native dusky-footed wood rats. Squirrel nests, called dreys, often seem to have more leaves than sticks. I’m not an expert, this is just from backyard observing.

There is a Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz that has dozens and dozens of dusky-footed woodrat nests up to 5 or 6 feet across and nearly as tall both on the ground and in the branches of trees there.


If there is a fluffy, soft-padded whitish material in the centre, it can be some sort of a large rodent. Very interesting, please keep observing and tell us what the nest develops into.

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Haven’t got a close look. I will try looking at it with binoculars to see if I can get a closer look!

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