There's lots of trees in Maine... And lots of animals living in them.

I'm very lucky. Out behind where I live there's hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of woods. It used to be a series of old trim trails for a now-defunct cedar mill. So there are already sections that are practically cleared trails. We've bushwhacked through a bit on our own as well, to give us more places to walk the dog.

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You see all sorts of things out there. Often, you may even come across one of a couple different scenarios in the canopy above. Sometimes you'll see these balls of leaves, sometimes you see a clump of branches in a pine or spruce tree that also look like a ball.

Starry night motion sky with trees in the foreground

And then other times, you may see a ball of twigs that all of a sudden moves. Believe it or not, there are reasonable explanations for all these things, even if they aren't what they seem. So what are all these things? Well, let's check it out.

Squirrel's nests


These you see far more often than you think. They're particularly easy to spot when the leaves fall off the trees for the year. At that point, they stick out like a sore thumb. It's just a big ball of leaves, wedged into some branches. And nest is a relative term. Squirrels will spend a lot of time in there, but they're also food storage areas. They'll pack them full of treats to get them through the long, cold winter.

Witch's Ball or Broom


These aren't nearly as common as the squirrel nests, but you see them quite a bit. They call them Witch's Balls because the smaller branches at the end of a larger branch, can basically gather up and grow so close together, they actually start to take on a ball shape. It's actually considered good luck to spot one, because they're semi-rare. Sometimes you see them in trees, and other times, you may find one on the ground.

A porcupine


Once, I was walking the dog out back in the woods with my wife, and we came across and old spruce that had seen better days. Initially, what caught my attention, were all the "pine cones" at the base of the tree. Then when I looked up, I saw what I thought was the tightest Witch's Ball I'd ever seen. Then it moved!

All of a sudden, it basically stood up and moved to a different spot on the branch and it was then I realized it was a porcupine. It was crazy. I'd never seen one just hanging out in a tree before. In fact, I know so little about them, I never knew chilling in trees was a thing. You learn something new every day...

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But yeah, there are no massive bird nests like that out in the woods. If you see a large round-ish shape in a tree out in the woods, chances are it's one of these things we just talked about. And on of those things, you don't wanna get near at all, hahaha. Nature can be pretty cool sometimes, if not stealthy.

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