National Wildlife Federation posted a great article this week about creating winter roosting places for birds. Birds seek shelter at night and in bad weather, and some may choose winter roosting sites that will become spring nesting spots. Some birds you might expect to find roosting in boxes include titmice, wrens, chickadees, and nuthatches.
Here are some tips condensed from the NWF article – click here to read it in its entirety for full details.
- Some birds will use prefabricated (i.e. human built) roosting boxes. These resemble nesting boxes, but have perches inside near the top and entrance holes near the bottom to keep the warm air in. Buy one from Duncraft or build your own using these plans.
- Birds that don’t sleep on perches, like bluebirds, might prefer to use regular nesting boxes as roosts in the winter. (Here’s a great DIY bluebird house plan from BirdsandBlooms.com.) Add a layer of leaf litter or moss to the bottom for extra warmth. You can also use weatherstripping to seal off any larger cracks (unseal before nesting season, though, as these provide ventilation in warmer weather).
- Protect a roosting box from predators just as you would a nesting box. Mount the roosting box at least 10 feet off the ground on a metal pole to keep predators like cats and raccoons from attacking birds while they’re seeking shelter. Some people prefer roosting boxes with two holes to allow birds an escape route.