Roosting Boxes Different From Houses

"Shelter From Inclement Weather & a "Bird Bedroom"

Roosting boxes provide valuable shelter for birds at any time during the year for night time habitation. But especially during the autumn and into the winter seasons a place to roost against cold temperatures, ice and snow is essential.

The autumn can be a very busy time of year in your backyard.

Travelers from the north may stop by at your bird feeders and birdbaths to refuel and refresh themselves as they migrate southward for the winter.

Meanwhile some of our feathered friends are preparing to spend the winter with us.

To provide wild bird shelters for these hardy birds we can do a number of things including building boxes for roosting.

Roosting Boxes A Unique Type of Wild Bird Shelter

Specially made boxes will provide a spot where wild birds can huddle together or singularly for warmth during the depths of a winter storm or deep freezing temperatures.

Although some boxes for roosting may look similar to a bird house there are dramatic differences.

You can turn a bird house into a roosting box too!

Here is a list of differences:

  1. Instead, of an opening near the top of the front, the birds enter the box via an opening near the bottom. This “basement” entrance serves two purposes.
  1. Wind cannot blow into the chamber and fall down into the box to fill it up with snow like in a traditional birdhouse.
  1. The larger space at the top half of the box collects warmer air as heat rises making a more comfortable place for wild birds to shelter.
  1. A box made for roosting does not have air vents at the top to let out excessive heat which are necessary in a bird house to prevent harm to baby birds by over heating. For a roosting box most of the time it is a positive not to have air vents to keep the body heat produced by the birds trapped inside the box.
  1. Wild birds will need a spot to perch inside the box. This can be achieved by inserting perches in a staggered pattern up each side of the inside of the box. Or small branches and twigs can be arranged inside the box to provide resting spots for the birds to perch on.

Positive Features Common To Both Types of Bird Boxes

There are also features which are beneficial when building bird houses and roosting shelters for both to possess. 

  1. Like a bird house, a box for roosting should not have a perch located at the outside entrance as this only makes it easier for predators to enter. If you can’t resist installing a perch, attach a short, stubby one. A short stubby perch will be too small to assist most predators. Birds which use a bird house or a roosting box will have no problem getting in or out without a perch at the front door.
  1. Another important feature for a roosting shelter, as well as a bird house, is the ability to be able to clean it out from time to time. Making it possible to open one side, the roof or the bottom, is a real plus. Occasionally a little bird may decide to choose your roosting box as a place to build their nest.

A bird house should be cleaned out in the fall when nesting season is over if it is going to be put away until the following spring. Or perhaps you could leave it out as it might also be used for resting in.

But a roosting shelter can be left up all year. It will need to be cleaned out two or three times per year depending on the amount of visitors it receives.

No doubt, from time to time it may be chosen as a location for nest building. This of course is not a problem.

You may wish to set up another wild bird shelter in another corner of your yard for the “over-nighters”.

Tips For Locating Wild Bird Shelters in the Backyard

  1. Mount them in a position in your yard in close proximity to your feeders. “Close proximity” in this situation is not closer than 20 feet.
  1. This enables our feathered friends to dart back and forth from their safe haven to find food to sustain themselves in the cold weather.
  1. But it provides a comfortable distance for the “sleepers” to not feel uneasy about the “diners” down the hall.
  1. Mount the bird box with the entrance facing the opposite direction to the direction your prevailing winds come from. This will protect your wild birds who are inside from inclement weather coming inside the box. (This is a good tip for all bird abodes you are putting up.)

Try Converting Bird Houses Into Roosting Boxes

You can turn a bird house into a place for roosting only too. After nesting season is over, a bird house can be converted easily. Although some types convert better than others.

This renovation can be done by mounting the bird house upside down to position the entrance near the bottom of the box. 

The air vents will need to be sealed to prevent heat loss.

Bluebird houses convert best for this purpose. If the front of a bluebird house has a little over-hang and there is danger of water being directed into the box, then cut the over-hang off. In the early spring a piece of wood long enough to allow over-hang can be attached on top by screwing it on. This way it will be easy to remove in the fall to make it into a roosting box again.

It will also be necessary to insert a few branches or twigs into the box to provide perches for the birds to sit on when using an upside-down bird house as a place to roost.

Providing wild bird shelters rounds out the experience of observing wild bird behaviour. You will see them exhibit behaviour that will be fascinating and educational.

Of course bird houses will often be used just as they are as places to roost by wild birds. They are just not as efficient at holding the heat inside. Cleaning them out, plugging the air vents and inserting a few twigs will help.

Become A Backyard Bird Expert

        Would you like to be a bird expert able to:

  • Know by sight all the birds that visit your backyard?
  • Identify the birds you hear on a walk?
  • Answer your Grandkids or friends question, "What bird is that?".

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More Types of Bird Housing

  1. Gourd Houses - Native North Americans were the first to craft gourds into bird houses to attract wild birds.
  1. Roosting Boxes provide valuable shelter for birds at any time during the year for night time habitation or inclement weather.
  1. Snags - Dead or dying trees create a snag which provide many elements of the necessities of survival for wildlife including habitation. 
  1. How To Attract Birds to a Bird House? - It does take a lot of patience sometimes to reap the benefits of bird watching with bird houses in your backyard. Find tips for success here.

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