Roosting Pocket Buyers Guide
Why do birds need to roost?
If you’ve ever wondered where the birds that visit your garden during the day, foraging on the ground, flitting among trees or visiting feeders, go at night. Likelihood is they’re roosting. This is when they settle down for rest or sleep. Birds choose how and where they sleep very carefully to ensure they can survive through the night.
Many bird species choose hollows or cavities to roost in at night, which prevents predators having easy access to them. Dense thickets, hedges and tree canopies are other common roosting spots, like cavities, they also provide shelter from poor weather. Smaller birds will sometimes sleep perched close to the trunk of trees typically high up. The trunk offers heat from the day as well as shelter and the birds will often be alerted of predators by noises and vibrations off the tree.
The colder winter months provide an extra challenge to birds at night. With temperatures dropping very low, sleeping birds can be subject to hypothermia and frostbite which could lead to death. Many bird species have adapted to this by gathering in large roosts to share body heat. Although this too can be a problem if the area is too small or poorly ventilated. A simple solution to all of the trials that our wild garden birds have to face at night and in bad weather can be a Roosting Nest Pocket.
What is a Roosting Pocket?
A Roosting Nest Pocket is similar to a nest box in that it provides shelter for birds. But it is not intended for building nests or raising hatchlings. Although birds will use them for this if suitable. Instead, a roosting pocket provides secure shelter from low temperatures, harsh weather and predators. For single and or multiple small nesting birds at once.
The types of birds that will use roosting pockets depends on which species they’ve been designed for. Roosting nest pockets with larger entrance holes are more suitable to species such as robins, pied flycatchers or wagtails as they all prefer the open-fronted style. Whereas, roosting pockets with small openings are designed with small nesting hole species, such as blue tits and other small birds, in mind.
What type of roosting pocket is best to buy?
The best type of roosting pocket is one that is in use! To ensure your roosting or nesting pocket is used, make sure you have the species of birds that roost in cavities visiting your garden. The birds most likely to use roosting pockets are blue tits, coal tits and many other members of the tit family. Sparrows, robins and wrens may also take up residence. To attract these species of birds try placing some bird feeders near to your roosting pocket. This will hopefully encourage birds to start exploring your garden. Try using peanuts and sunflower seeds for tits and mealworms for robins, wrens and thrushes. Make sure to remove these feeders once your garden birds find the pocket.
There is no one roosting pocket design that fits all birds. For example, some species of bird prefer smaller roosting cavities with smaller entry holes. Whereas others will prefer to roost in sizeable groups and will need larger cavities. Pick a roosting pocket that is not only in keeping with the style of your garden. But one that will be best used for the birds in the surrounding area.
Where to position a roosting pocket
The main purpose of a pocket is to provide cosy roosting spaces. Out of the prevailing wind to offer shelter from harsh weather and predators. All of these factors should be taken into consideration when siting a roosting nest pocket. A pocket that retains heat for a while in the early evening and night will be more attractive to birds. This can be achieved by ensuring the pocket gets some sunlight during the day and especially in the late afternoon. Having the entrance hole face south will also help the pocket get more heat.
Most roosting pockets will be best located within foliage or vegetation. This will offer further shelter from the elements and create a similar feel to many birds natural roosting sites. This also avoids any unwanted movement of the roosting nest pocket. If attached out in the open or hanging from a tree or post. The swaying motion during high winds can act as a real deterrent for birds looking for a cosy roost for the night.
How to attach your roosting pocket
The roosting nest pockets available at Wildlife World are made using a sturdy inner frame. To further support the natural, often brushwood, covering. Roosting nest pockets made to this design ensure a structural stability when attaching to a tree or within vegetation. In many designs roosting nest pockets have integral fixing loops. So that the pocket can be easily tied into suitable foliage or vegetation. Ideally pockets should be securely attached, either with a screw or tied to a surface such as a tree trunk, fence, wall or within a bush.
As mentioned above, try to avoid hanging roosting pockets, the wind will make them swing. As a result, putting off any birds looking for a place to roost. You can always spread a few different pockets in a wide range of places around your garden. Testing what works best as well as encouraging a variety of species to take up residence.
When is the best time to put up a roosting pocket?
There really is no ‘best time’ to introduce a roosting pocket into your garden. A safe, warm roost pocket can provide excellent shelter for birds to use nightly at any time of the year. They will however be in greater demand during the colder winter months. So, if you have a well-designed and well sited roosting pocket up all year long, you’ll see your garden birds taking advantage of it in every season.
How to clean a roosting pocket
All roosting nest pockets should be cleaned periodically, when the pocket is not in use. Make sure the pockets are thoroughly dry before putting them back out. How to clean them depends on the design. An enclosed cavity roosting pocket will be harder to clean than a bird box with a hatch.
You’ll need to remove any build-up of debris such as shed feathers, nesting materials and faeces without damaging the pocket. It’s also advisable to give the pocket a quick wash with a hose or with hot water, depending on design. This ensures it is clean of any organic matter that might lead to bacteria growth. This will be much easier with the open cavity roosting pockets for species such as robins. But slightly more difficult with the smaller cavity pockets. Getting the debris to the opening and then using wire to flush out the contents might be an option.