Friday, October 21, 2011

Nest Boxes Provide Winter Retreat

From The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Ever wonder what you should do with your nest boxes during the winter? After you clean out old nesting material, consider leaving them in place throughout the colder months.

© Donna L. Watkins - Chickadee on Holly Tree
Non-migratory birds seek sheltered locations to stay warm during chilly winter weather. Cavity nesters, such as titmice, chickadees, wrens, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and screech-owls, may consider your nest box to be the perfect place to spend a cold night or wait out a storm.

The body heat of birds can keep the air temperature inside nest boxes about 10 degrees warmer than outside. This means that birds burn much less energy sleeping indoors. Some species prefer to roost alone, but others are more social and may roost in groups.

Although not much research has been done to determine preferred specifications of winter roosting boxes, some species seem to like having perches and ledges to sleep on. Wrapping boxes in foam insulation and blocking ventilation holes may help keep them warm.

Also, don’t forget to make sure that the boxes are well protected from predators. You can help your backyard birds maintain their body fat reserves by providing them with suet and keeping your feeders filled with black-oil sunflower seeds. Check out Project FeederWatch for more information about how you can help birds during the winter.

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