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 many 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.
Where can you place roosting pockets or houses?
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.
Help birds find the right place to spend the night
There are many ways to provide shelter for your birds. During the winter, roosting pockets and houses will work wonders, keeping the heat up and inside the roost where different birds can huddle together to stay warm and conserve energy.
Help birds get out of the wind and rain this season by providing a roosting box that’s easy to clean and will work well for you and your birds. We’ve put together a slideshow to help you get started. Many of these roosting houses include a ladder, allowing more birds to gather in the warmest corners and fit in the cozy space.
Hover over each photo to pause the slideshow and click on each photo for complete details.
Provide a durable shelter for your birds:
NOTE: This article was originally written in October 2011 and has since been updated for accuracy and completeness.