How are 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 Welcome 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!
List of Differences Between Roosting Boxes & Bird Houses:
- 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.
- Wind cannot blow into the chamber and fall down into the box to fill it up with snow like in a traditional birdhouse.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
More Considerations About Bird Housing
Sometimes people choose, when nesting season is over, to put away their birdhouse until the following spring. Or perhaps you could leave it out as it might also be used for roosting 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 number of visitors it receives.
No doubt, from time to time it may be chosen as a location forest building. This of course is not a problem.
You may wish to set up another wild birds shelter in another corner of your yard for the “over-nighters”.
Tips For Locating Wild Bird Shelters in the Backyard
- 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.
- This enables our feathered friends to dart back and forth from their safe haven to find food to sustain themselves in the cold weather.
- But it provides a comfortable distance for the “sleepers” to not feel uneasy about the “diners” down the hall.
- 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.)
How to Convert Bird Houses Into Roosting Boxes?
You can turn a bird house into a place for roosting only too. After the nesting season is over, a birdhouse can be converted easily. Although some types convert better than others.
This renovation can be done by mounting the birdhouse 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 a danger of water being directed into the box, then cut the over-hang off.
The front piece can be unscrewed and flipped, so the hole is at the top for cavity-nesting birds to use as a nesting box.
(The box featured at the top of this page can be used in the same way.)
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 birdhouse as a place to roost.
Providing wild bird shelters rounds out the experience of observing wild bird behavior. You will see them exhibit behavior that will be fascinating and educational.
Of course, birdhouses 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.
Roosting pockets provide a small space for a couple of small birds to spend the night.
They may get used for raising young too!
After a season of roosting or nesting they will need to be cleaned out carefully as the opening is small and the only way to clean it out is through the entrance hole.
Don’t forget the bedding for your roosting boxes. Some clean, dry grass will work well.
Are you intrigued to get into “wild bird real estate” now?!
All About Bird Housing
About Baby Birds Which wild birds raise their young in birdhouses and what other ways do parent birds provide housing for their babies?
Attracting Backyard Birds Is There Another Way? – Attracting backyard birds with bird feeders is one way to watch birds in your backyard. But are there other ways?
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 shelters in your backyard. Find tips for success here.
Nesting Habits Vary a Lot Wild birds prepare for and raise their baby birds in many different ways. Some birds are solitary in their method and others are communal.
Other Types of Wild Bird Shelters For roosting or homes for cavity nesters are a good way to keep birds in your yard for great bird watching.
Intriguing Bird House Info It only stands to reason that if you are setting the table for wild birds with bird feeders, they would choose to nest “down the hall”, so to speak, in a backyard birdhouse.
Are You a Wild Bird Real Estate Expert? Take the Bird House Quiz! Test your knowledge on birdlife real estate.
Types of Bird Houses
Gourd Houses are #1 Native North Americans were the first to craft gourds into bird homes to attract wild birds and studies indicate they are the #1 choice with wild birds.
Roosting Boxes for Bedrooms Provide valuable shelter for birds at any time during the year for night time habitation.
Snags/Dead or Dying Trees Provide many elements of the necessities of survival for wildlife, such as food, escape from predators, nesting sites, roosting spots.
Building Your Own
How to Build a Bird House: The Right Way How to build a birdhouse that will actually be used requires a little knowledge but it is not complicated.
Building Bird Houses that Get the Movers Hired You can put up a bird home but will the birds like your location, is the style suitable for them or their neighbors?
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do you put roosting boxes?
You can install your boxes as high as possible, making sure they are away from any overhead wires, buildings, or trees. Roosting boxes should be placed in an area protected from extreme weather, at a height birds can easily reach, and in a place where predators are unlikely to be able to reach them.
How high should roosting boxes be?
Roosting boxes should be at least 12 inches above the ground, and they should be at least 8 inches above the porch of the tallest bird in the coop.