Will a stray chicken sleep in a nesting box?


Dec 9, 2019
Hi there

So uuh. I'm a little lost but could use some advice. I live in a city in MN where winter is in full swing. There's a stray chicken who comes down to our yard to eat the seed under my bird feeders. She's learned that we're a reliable food source so she's here every day, and I've been putting down extra seed for her.

Well, it's getting COLD. It's been about 30° but it's supposed to be subzero this coming week. She doesn't seem to like being in the snow and walks like a dog wearing boots occasionally but seems to be doing ok, even if she doesn't love it.

I got worried for her, so my fiance and I went out and bought a plastic chicken nesting box and a heat pad. We mounted this to our shed about 2 feet up and lined it with fine Aspen shavings (no fire hazard, the heat pad is mounted to the back wall). We made a little fort out of plywood - a roof and walls that leave a foot of space underneath, since she walks right along our shed to get to the feeders - as a windblock and weather block. I also bought a heated dog water bowl and filled it, and put a dish of food out there so she can have access to food and water.

I have no idea if she will even use this or realize it's there for her benefit. Will a wild chicken look into a nest box and jump in? She can fly WAY better than I thought chickens could fly and has no problem flying into the top of the oak trees nearby so I'm guessing she sleeps up in trees but it's going to be so cold, and the nest box is warm. At the very least tomorrow she will stumble across the food and water since it's right in her walking path. But, I really want her to find the warm box too.

Finding a way to trap her is not possible. We don't have the material or space to build an impromptu chicken coop, and she is not human friendly - I'm not sure how we would even manage to trap her. But if she sticks around long enough we are considering trying to convert a doghouse into a one hen coop and trying to figure out how to corral her in there.

How cold can a chicken withstand? I worry for her.



Feb 11, 2019
Northeast Florida
I have no idea as I live in Florida, but would think she'd be curious enough to check it out. I do want to commend you for being such a caring person & doing all that you have for an animal that is not yours (YET). I feel that chicken is going to claim you!! I started with a stray chicken too. I now have 3 and they sleep in dog crates on the porch. The stray originally slept on a windowsill & ate Kashi cereal.


Free Ranging
Jul 3, 2016
Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
She'll be happy to have the food and water but is unlikely to use the box. Chickens usually roost to sleep and they like being high up as possible (and since this one has been out and about she's used to that). The overhang is nice, but she'd probably be more likely to take shelter there if it was simply a branch or 2x4 running the span just under that overhang (no guarantees, as she's likely to still prefer a tree).

The cold shouldn't be a problem for her, it's actually preferable for them to have good ventilation during cold weather as opposed to trying to lock them up and keep them warm, though obviously if it gets too cold (I want to say -25 and lower) then you're starting to risk freezing.

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