How do birds keep warm when it’s windy and rainy, or when it’s cold and snowy? Birds use lots of energy to keep warm under difficult conditions during the day and night. During the day, birds can constantly forage for food to supply the calories they need to expend as heat. But during the night birds can’t forage, so they need to eat as much as possible to store calories before they settle down for the evening.
Along with storing as much calories as possible, birds also need to find a sheltered location to roost. Sheltered areas keep away wind and moisture—two factors that can quickly drain birds of the energy they need to keep warm. If a bird runs out of calories during a frigid night, it’s fatal.
One easy and inexpensive way to protect birds against wind, cold and moisture is to hang roosting pockets. These are small, hanging shelters made of tightly woven materials such as raffia where birds can escape dangerous conditions and conserve energy. Roosting pockets made of materials like these are actually quite durable and will last several seasons. And they’re ideal for small birds that tend to roost alone, such as chickadees and wrens.
Hang roosting pockets in conifer trees, in shrubs, along fences or in any sheltered location that birds would naturally seek out during bad weather. They can be hung at just about any height—birds aren’t fussy, they just want the warmest location they can find. And remember that usually only one bird will occupy the roosting pocket, so hang lots of them so a greater number of birds can find a cozy place to spend the night.
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