Bird Nest or Roost?

In all of my running around the Rocky Mountains I have seen lots of different animals.  I’ve seen some big moose and lots of small mice.  However, many times when I am out I don’t see any animals.  Even those times that I don’t see any animals I hear birds.

I hear birds chirping away somewhere in the trees or shrubs when we walk by.  Sometimes I spot a few birds flying from tree to tree and darting off the trail to hide in the bushes.  Very rarely, I have even seen a bird sitting on a nest.  I haven’t seen that very often for some reason.  Well, here is a fun nature fact for you.

bird cup nest small

A bird nest with eggs in it.

I always imagined that birds’ nests were like their homes and that they use their nests all of the time.  I thought that since birds take so much time to build a nice nest they would use it all of the time.  I pictured the birds flying around doing their thing all day, then in the evening the mom and dad would return to the nest sit down next to each other and fall asleep.

I was surprised to find out that is not true.   Birds actually only sit on their nests when they are having babies.  Most of the year they are not using their nests.  Instead at the end of the day when they are ready to go to sleep they simply go to a nice, safe spot somewhere and fall asleep.  These places that they stay at night are called roosts.

I just want to explain the difference between a nest and a roost:

Nest -a place where birds have their babies and raise their chicks until they are big enough to fly.  Generally, a nest is used only once (although a few birds will reuse a nest for many years).

Roost – a place where birds go to rest or sleep at night.  The main thing a bird is looking for in a nice roost is a place that is safe from predators and is warm.  A roost could be a spot within thick bushes, the top of a tree, or even on water.  Some  birds roost with lots of other birds in a place called a communal roost and many roost alone.  Generally, a roost is located in the same kind of area/habitat that the bird lives.