In spring 2010, the Blackburn Hamlet cub pack offered to make bird boxes or feeders for us. We asked if they would consider building roosting boxes instead as we wanted to know whether these much larger containers would be used over the winter, presumably by birds seeking shelter from the weather.
According to Shaw Creek Bird Supplies (where we found plans for the boxes), “Any backyard favorites that typically nest in boxes — bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and small woodpeckers — may seek refuge in [a roosting box]. Roosting boxes differ from nest boxes in several important ways. A good roost box is designed to prevent the birds’ body heat from escaping, so, unlike a nest box, it lacks ventilation holes. Also, its entrance hole is near the bottom of the box so the rising warmth doesn’t escape.”
At the end of October 2010, the cubs and their leaders installed seven beautiful roosting boxes at various sites around the FWG. All were attached to trees.
The little red squirrel at the left wasted no time staking a claim to one box a few days later. He made multiple trips bringing mouthfuls of leaves and fluff that he busily stripped from dog-strangling vine plants.
Chickadees also checked out the boxes in early winter 2010, not long after they were installed (chickadees also use bird boxes for roosting in winter).
Although the boxes are not used by birds as expected, this is not a bad thing! There aren’t many squirrel-sized cavities at the FWG, as our trees are not large enough, so the roosting boxes are a nice generous size for them and they may be less inclined to squeeze themselves into bird boxes.
When the Cubs again asked if they could build something for us, we decided to try “squirrel boxes” in hopes that our red squirrels would leave the roosting boxes to the birds and occupy shelters designed especially for them. We’re hoping to get these new boxes installed soon and will let you know whether the plan succeeds.