One very persistent gray squirrel has spent most of the weekend shredding the bark on a sapling near the cabin. I think the shredding was begun by non-squirrel activity. A branch near the sapling has been rubbing it for a while, but the squirrel has taken shredding far beyond that minor beginnning.
It certainly looks as though this squirrel is starting to gather material for a nest. Typically, squirrels around here nest in late winter. Normally, early February doesn't qualify as late winter, but with climate change, who knows?
Anyway, the squirrel provided entertainment for the cats (and me!). If this squirrel is nesting now, the kits could be born as early as mid-March. Squirrel babies usually aren't seen until they leave the nest, which is usually in May-June around here. If the babies are born in mid-March, that will bring them out of the next perhaps in early-mid May instead. By the time squirrels leave the nest, they are pretty much grown, so I don't get to see just how cute the little ones likely are.