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How to Winterize a Birdhouse

Now that nesting season is over and temperatures are dipping quite a bit, it’s time to put away those birdhouses, right? Not exactly.

Instead of putting away your birdhouses, convert them into winter roosting boxes.

Winter is a tough time for birds and finding shelter is a tall task for many species; however, with a few modifications, you can provide your local birds with a place to stay when the weather gets rough.

Clean it out and repair any damage

The first and most important thing you should do is clean it out. You’ll want to completely remove all the nesting material left in the house. This needs to be done to make room for visitors, but it also removes any mites or bacteria from previous occupants.


Once it’s sanitized, you should repair any damage and unclog every drainage hole. By taking some time to get it back into tip-top shape, this will extend the life of the birdhouse and ensure your birds are safe and sound.

Make sure the birdhouse is dry before putting it back up.

Flip the front panel upside (if applicable)

Along with cleaning and general repair, you should make sure the birdhouse is optimized for roosting. Some birdhouses and nesting boxes have front panels that flip upside down, moving the entrance to the lower part.

An example of this is the Convertible Winter Roost from Coveside Conservation Products.

Insulate the inside of the box

To insulate the box, add a layer of dried grass, sawdust, or hay to the floor of the box. Block ventilation holes by stuffing them with foam to trap the heat. This will make the inside nice and cozy.

Add perches inside the box

5_401021When the birdhouse is used for nesting, it should be nice and roomy, but the opposite is true when it’s cold out. Birds like a smaller space with more opportunities to huddle together.

An easy solution is to lay twigs or small branches across the inside. If you’re the handy type, you can drill holes in the side of the house and insert a dowel that you can also remove when spring arrives.

Position it in the perfect spot

After all that, you’re ready to set up the box. You have to pay a little extra attention to the placement of your new roosting box. Make sure the entrance faces away from the wind to prevent the inside from filling with frosty air. The box should also be placed so it receives as much of the afternoon sun as possible to keep it warmer at night.

Some say that having the box up high during the winter is more appealing to roosting birds. This also protects it from predators.


How to Attract Wild Turkeys


Featured: Coveside Convertible Winter Roost


  1. Thank you for the insightful information. Will birds roost in a box that has animal fiber? I have some bluebird houses that I wanted to winterize and I thought they might like some llama fiber in their box. Will they be afraid to use the box if I place some in the house?

  2. This article was really helpful because I had no idea you should winterize a birdhouse. I had always taken mine down for the winter but I think I’ll take the advice from the article and winterize is so it provides suitable shelter all winter. Mine is in pretty bad shape so it might be time to get a new one and start fresh.

  3. LRD

    The article says, “once the bird house is sanitized” but doesn’t give any information at all on how to sanitize it ! Spray Lysol on it? Dunk it in Clorox? badly written article !

  4. I really liked your tips on how to make a birdhouse suitable for living in during the winter. I especially liked how you pointed out that the entrance should face away from the wind to help keep it from being too cold. It seems like in addition to insulation, location will be the most important thing for me to consider when I get a birdhouse for my yard.

  5. I liked what you said about adding perches and having a smaller space for them. My daughters are really excited to have some bird houses in our backyard, but I want to make sure that they can use them year round. I think that we’ll have a few for winter and some for spring and summer, so we’ll get a good variety.

  6. Lis

    Thanks I’ve always wanted to winterize my bird houses because I love watching them in the winter . Now this gives me a better idea of what to do

  7. Valerie O'Brien

    I built a couple winter roosts this week the size and shape of typical bird houses – taller than they are wide. I saw a horizontal winter roost that was 12-15 inches long and only a few inches high. This made sense to me since it traps the heat closer to the birds. Since most plans are for vertical shelters, I wondered if there is a reason to skip the horizontal roost. I would appreciate your thoughts on short vs tall winter roosts. Many thanks.

  8. I will clean out my birdhouses but purposely planted a lot of evergreens in my yard for them to roost naturally. Thank you for this article.

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