Roosting Pockets as Shelter

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Roosting Pockets Provide Night-time Shelter for Your Birds with Protection from Wet Weather, Freezing Temperatures and Predators

All winter long, a bird’s most difficult task is to continually forage enough food during the day. Most of us provide birds with food and water during the day, but we can go one step further. We can help birds make it through long, winter nights by providing shelters where they can escape freezing winds and icy temperatures.

One way to help the birds stay warm is to leave your bird houses up all winter. Stuffing cotton nesting materials and dried grasses inside will help insulate them, and the box will serve as a cozy place for birds to get out of the elements. Blocking the ventilation holes will help too. You can stuff cotton, hay or grasses in the openings or anything else that will keep out the drafts. Just remember to remove these materials in spring, before nesting begins.

An inexpensive way to help birds in winter is to put out thatched roosting pockets. Put out as many as you can, so more birds can find shelter in them. You can stuff the insides of these with nesting materials too, such as cotton and grasses.

Roosting boxes are even better. These have the entrance hole at the bottom and perches inside for roosting. Having the hole at the bottom keeps warm air up inside the box. Sometimes many birds will share the same roosting box. Facing the opening in a southerly position will help warm the box in late afternoon.

Finally, you can hang nesting materials out in winter for those birds that have found shelter in natural cavities. Birds will take the cotton, grasses and other materials and stuff them into tree holes or anywhere else they have found a place to spend the night.

By taking a few steps now—stuffing your bird houses, putting out roosting pockets, roosting boxes and hanging stuffing materials, your birds will be able to find and get used to their new shelters well before the worst of winter really sets in. Shop roosting pockets at

Written by R. Brune

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  • marcia wyshynski January 4, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Got your roosting box for shelter but the birds just do not go near it or even check it out. It is on a tree near all their many bird feeders and drinking water. Any suggestions how to attract them? Live in CT and it has been cold, snowy and very windy. Would like to help the birds more.

  • R. Brune January 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Hi Marcia,

    I don’t think the birds will show much interest in the box during the day while they are eating and foraging for food. And if they are using the box at night, you probably wouldn’t know it. I think it’s enough that you’ve made the box available to them, should they choose to use it. And, just like a new feeder, it will probably take them several weeks to get used to this new item in their environment before they figure out what it’s for. Some cold night the birds are going to thank you!

  • Sherry January 7, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I hung a roosting box and three raffia shelter pockets but see no evidence of use. My roosting box is above the wire hook of a thistle feeder. I wonder if this is not a good idea. The Squirrel sure like roosting on the top and sunning themselves.

  • R. Brune January 8, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Sherry, you might try moving the box away from your feeders because the feeders might attract nighttime visitors. At least the shelters are available to the birds if they want to use them.