Do Birds Use Nest Boxes To Roost During The Winter?

Do Birds Use Nest Boxes To Roost During The Winter?

Birds love and appreciate the nesting boxes prepared for them during their breeding season when shelter, protection, and other resources are crucial for the proper growth and development of both the parents and the young ones. 

But after the young ones have left home to forage and explore by themselves, the weather starts to get cooler. 

At this point what the birds need is heat and communion, and while birdhouses and nests can provide this, they fall short in some aspects. 

What birds would appreciate the most at this point are roosting boxes, designed specifically for their purposes.

Don’t worry though, roosting boxes are not that complicated to build at all and you can easily transform a nesting box into a roosting box. 

But before that let’s look at how roosting boxes are different from nesting boxes.

And how a roosting box can help your neighborhood’s flying buddies make it through the harsh cold months without freezing and wasting away.

Let’s get into it!

What Is Roosting? And What Is A Roosting Box?

Roosting is an essential survival mechanism in birds whereby they group together in flocks, that is in groups 3-6 and huddle together in an enclosed cavity, sharing body heat in the process, as a means of protecting themselves from the harsh winter climate.

Apart from keeping themselves warm, sharing body heat also serves the purpose of reducing the amount of energy used up in regulating individual body temperatures, so the birds have more energy to go foraging whenever they need to do so.

A roosting box is very similar to a nesting box, in the sense that the primary aim of both of them is to provide adequate shelter for birds. 

But while nesting houses are for building nests and raising young ones in, roosting houses provide shelter, and a space for many birds to huddle together to effectively brave the weather together as they would in the wild.

Roosting Boxes vs. Birdhouses

Though it is not like birds to be picky between birdhouses and roosting boxes – in fact, it is highly likely you have seen a bird take shelter in your birdhouse during the colder months.

There are still ways you can make your birdhouse more efficient for heat-seeking birds.

Even though they both attain the purpose of providing shelter, roosting boxes do a much better job of keeping the freezing cold winter air outside and the cozy, delicious, warmth inside.

Let us now look at how roosting boxes differ from birdhouses and achieve this conservation of heat.

How You Can Make Better Roosting Boxes?

Decreased number of ventilation and drainage holes, as well as separate placement methods:

When building birdhouses during the spring and summer months, the importance of having a number of ventilation holes is emphasized constantly. 

This is mainly to prevent the overheating action of the sun and to provide easy airflow to the inside. But in the winter time though, the outside air is the enemy and must not be allowed in too much. 

Thus it is best advised to have only the crucial number of ventilation and drainage holes present to conserve the heat inside and not let it out. 

Don’t omit ventilation and drainage holes altogether either, you don’t want to suffocate the birds!

Another thing to remember is to place most holes – that is the ventilation holes as well as the main entrance on the sides and the bottom – and try to avoid the top wall of the box entirely when making holes. 

This is because hot air rises upward and hot air can be lost easily if big holes are placed at the top. If the box is very big and houses many birds, make sure you keep the holes on the top surface small and succinct.

Give texture to the walls of the box for better grip for the birds.

Unlike in birdhouses and nesting boxes, where the main purpose is for the birds to rest or for them to set up base and build nests, here there requires accommodation for a lot of birds. 

Thus it is important we do not crowd them up and give them comfort without making the box too big for us.

A simple and efficient way to achieve this is to create ridges and scorings on the inner side walls of the box and also add some mesh or netting for the birds to climb and perch onto. 

The mesh and netting will give the birds support if they want to move around a bit while the ledges will allow many birds to make use of the roosting box by stacking atop the ledges.

Make it larger and thicker.

Birders who set out to make these are also advised to make the box larger than usual.

The main reasoning behind this is that, unlike birdhouses and nesting boxes which usually house a low number of birds, many birds might have to inhabit the roosting boxes according to how harsh the weather is for them and so it is best to be prepared. 

It is also important that you aid the heat conservation process as much as possible and a simple and efficient way to do so is to add more girth to the walls of the box, thus allowing it to trap more heat.

In Conclusion

If you are a bird-lover hoping to lend a helping hand to your neighborhood’s flying buddies, then kudos to you. 

We hope we gave you some valuable tips on how you can make their stay the coziest and warmest, and we hope you learned something new about them today!

Thank you for reading!

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