Celebrate Bats & Owls as October recognizes both cool species!
There couldn’t be a more fitting time of year to think about bats! The great thing is that bat houses and owl boxes help both species thrive, and they’ll take you up on cozy digs if offered in suitable habitat.
Beneficial to have around your property for rodent and insect control, bats and owls could use a helping hand as their natural habitats continue to shrink.
If you’ve ever climbed up in the attic to find a bat or two clinging to the vent screen… it can be a bit unnerving! But the flying mammals are fairly harmless and sadly, quite misunderstood. Popular at Halloween for their cryptic character, the Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC) has been established to educate and inspire people to save bats.
Installing a bat house is advantageous as these not-so mysterious creatures consume thousands of insects nightly, not to mention that as pollinators, bats help gardens thrive. Cool factoid: Being the sole pollinator of the agave plant, if it weren’t for bats there would be no tequila! Bat boxes are available from single- to 5-chambers, in durable cedar or recycled plastic.
WHHHOOOOO would’ve thunk it?
Owls seize every opportunity to find shelter and food sources wherever possible. When it comes to habitat, owls are versatile as they reside in wooded areas (most common), rain forests, grasslands, and open prairie. As long as owls are able to stake claim to their own territory and hide from predators during the day, they are survivors.
The common misunderstanding is that owls live in tree-tops but the reality is, they live in tree trunks, abandoned structures and barn rafters. Some live in shrubs and bushes where you would never think to look for them. Often, these birds are not found high off the ground as many people believe. Owls will use a suitable hollowed out log or opening in a tree for nesting, bud sadly dead trees and snags are often discarded by land owners.
Truth be told is that owls need not be perched up high to find their prey. They’ll hunt right from their nest location or owl house instead of using a perch like most birds. Some owl species like the Great Horned- will not start a new nest, instead claiming nests of other raptors or Common Ravens that have been left behind. Barn Owls are known to roost year-round in their houses, so clean-out is best during non-breeding months in January/February.
Because owls are an isolating and territorial species, it’s believed that habitat loss could become critical for future survival. Even though they’re highly adaptable, owls like other wildlife are limited in what they can do without their natural habitat.
Interested in learning more to assist these majestic raptors? Install a species-specific owl house to offer cozy habitat for nesting and roosting.
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky… remember the theme song? Maybe old enough like us to mix them up with the family residing at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
It was Grandpa from the Munster’s who had the pet bat! Only showing him in flight, I don’t recall ever seeing his bat house, can you remember his name? Regardless, both of those theme songs keep replaying in the brain.
On a more serious note, it’s believed that about 44% of bees have perished this year from pesticide poisoning, which is really scary! Like the birds & bees, bats are also major pollinators of tropical plants and fruit, they’re considered the night shift pollinators.
Thankfully, more folks are tuning into the needs of these friendly flying mammals with fur. Offering bat houses for roosting actually helps promote pollination. Aside from the thousand of insects consumed nightly, pollination is a huge draw. Especially for the agave plant, because without it- there would be no tequila!
Materials vary from recycled plastic and cedar to aged barn wood for a more rustic appeal. There’s even several plans available online to build your own.
It may prove difficult at first to attract them, residing near a pond or lake greatly increase chances of occupancy. Recommended height is 12 to 15 feet, with a clear pathway to entry.
Facing SE or SW allows the bat house to receive maximum sun exposure for retained heat. Structures of brick, stone or wood are ideal mounting surfaces as they also retain heat. Metal- not so much. A pole may be easiest as the shelter can be attached while still on the ground, and then erected with bat house already secured.
Either way, bat houses are definitely something worth looking into. With holiday approaching they’d make an excellent gift for the nature-lover on your list.
Smart innovations (made in the USA) using durable materials means better quality, especially for items that remain outdoors. For seven years, we’ve had phenomenal feedback on all of our vinyl birdhouses and feeders – in fact some folks even thought they were made from wood!
With the popularity of natural insect control, and the increasing aversion to pesticides (thank goodness), bat houses have become a top preference for zapping those blood-sucking, nasty insects!
This brand new bat shelter with many a creature comfort will entice friendly brown bats and keep them roosting around your place. One tiny single bat can eat more than 1000 mosquitoes per night, now multiply that by 65, which is the approximate capacity here.
Made in the USA, the new vinyl design is completely impervious weather… will not crack, warp, split or mildew. The light color actually helps cool the box and stabilize inside temperatures during warm summer months. That’s important stuff if you’re a bat! It also blends well with the lighter colors of exterior paint on many homes – and that’s important stuff to people, it won’t stick out like a sore thumb!
Mounting height should be at least 15 ft. from the ground, on any structure, tree, or 4×4 post. Be sure entry is free and clear of any limbs or branches which might impede landing. It may take a little time for bats to discover their new digs, but if they already reside in your area, occupancy could be immediate. Having water nearby is more appealing to them; as in a creek, lake, stream or pond. Not a requirement, but more suitable habitat.
So vow to quit the bug zappers and chemicals this year, it’s far better for everyone’s health and the environment too. Try a bat house and entice these friendly, furry little mammals to your yard!
They make some cool shelters these days, from vintage to Victorian, recycled plastic, even kits to build your own bat houses. You can try your luck at attracting bats without a big investment. But why would anyone want to attract them? One word – beneficial would sum it up best!
Bats are major pollinators and seed spreaders. Natural insect control is another huge advantage to hosting these friendly mammals (yes, they’re mammals). Even small bat colonies will consume thousands of mosquitoes and other pests nightly.
Habitat plays a key role in attracting any friendly fliers to your place. This holds true for butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds too. If pesticides are being used, stop! They’re harmful to the to the environment, wildlife and the ecosystem in general. Pristine, manicured lawns are becoming passe, more naturalized areas are in style. This doesn’t mean jungle… it involves use of native plants, naturalized beds, and varied habitat.
You can attract bats by offering places for them to roost (other than your attic vents). Bat houses needn’t be plain square boxes, but stylish shelters that complement the landscape. The two shown are handcrafted in the USA, and made from solid cypress.
If water exists on your property, there’s a strong likelihood bats will use your shelters. Being near a creek, stream, or pond is preferable. They require a stable environment, steady temperatures within their roosts. Facing the houses south will allow full sun exposure to warm the boxes. Two bat houses are even better, facing them in different directions and allowing for varying temperatures. Leaving an outside light on at night may also assist in bringing bats to your place. As bugs swarm the light, bats will follow if they’re currently near your property.
Height is important when installing the houses as well. Some say 10 feet is sufficient, others claim 15-20 feet from the ground is best. Mount directly on a tree, structure or pole.
You can learn more about housing specs and hosting bats from The Organization for Bat Conservation.
Almost eight years later and we’re still dealing with the mysterious fungus known as white nose syndrome which is critically affecting the bat population. Originating in the northeastern US, it’s continually spreading further west and south. Although it may seem trivial to some, the furry, winged mammals (yes they’re mammals) play a key role in the eco-system… especially to farmers and their crops.
By offering shelter in the form of bat houses, you’ll encourage the critters to stick around. Several species are known to use the houses for roosting, and the shelters range in size from a single chamber to larger 5-chamber models. There’s even designer bat houses to enhance your landscape!
If you can spare 60 seconds, please see the quick note below from the Center for Biological Diversity, and take a stand for bats… thanks!
Since 2006 a deadly fungal disease called white-nose syndrome has killed nearly 7 million North American bats, pushing several species to the brink of extinction and creeping farther across the country every year.
These bats have declined by 98 percent over a large portion of their range, and have been waiting a painfully long time for an emergency rescue. But — just as life-saving protections are in sight — the Service’s proposal to protect the creatures could be derailed by greedy energy companies, who are lining up to limit the bat’s protection.
Please take action now to tell the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect northern long-eared bats without delay. If we wait any longer, it may well be too late.
Helping to demystify the furry creatures and their role in biodiversity would suit them and us well. This photo? Picked off Pinterest, but it sure is kind of cute! But do bats really roost in bat houses? You bet they do if habitat is suitable.
And just why would you want them around your property?
For insect control, bats can eat thousands of mosquitoes and flying pests each night. As a natural and effective method it’s brilliant. As pollinators, they spread and cross-pollinate both annuals and perennials in the garden. As an endangered species, yes! Brown bats are facing decimation due to a virus that still has scientists baffled. White Nose Syndrome is causing controversy with Fish and Wildlife Services – as far as revenue-generating options. Opening caves to the general public as tourist attractions seems to be an ill-thought idea in lieu of the disease and decrease in bat population numbers. Is it a concern? Just ask any farmer who’s had crops wiped out due to an over abundance of insects and pests 🙁
Hundreds of brown bats (or any large group) are referred to as colonies. Larger bat houses containing three or more chambers will host whole colonies. Houses or shelters do not require cleaning or nest removal like birdhouses, simply because they’re used for roosting only.
Suitable habitat consists of nearby woods or heavy brush, preferably with creeks, lakes, or streams in close proximity. Height is important, as bat houses should be placed at least 15-20 feet above ground. Erected on a pole, or the side of a structure is best. The range is broad on the size and type of shelters available. From smaller kits and single-chamber houses for experimenting, to decorative and larger houses to host whole colonies, we’d say it’s definitely worth a try this season!
Increasing in popularity as a better option for natural insect control, bat houses have come a long way in the past few years. Because installation may be on a structure; your house or an out building on the property, as well as a tree or pole, they may remain in full view. Thus some newer styles are more detailed with an aesthetic that encourages folks to utilize them. By quitting the pesticides, your yard will see more birds, butterflies, and more flowers, and a healthier environment all the way around!
This Victorian style bat house is handcrafted in the USA of solid cypress. The shingled roof and slat-front detail are really just for us humans, while the double chamber living quarters with landing pad is attractive to bats. Expect a double-chamber model to house about 100 bats. Cypress offers a stable environment for bats by keeping ambient temperatures level or constant.
A single chamber bat house offers roosting for about twenty or so bats. This is a good way to get started to lure the beneficial furry friends to your place. This vintage style home offers a very cool design element not found with the “standard box” models. Again, handcrafted in solid cypress, it proves to be durable for many years of use.
Either of these fine bat houses would make a unique addition to the landscape. If you happen to be near a pond or creek, chances are favorable at luring occupants. For more information on bats and their benefits, visit OBC, the Organization for Bat Conservation.
Forget the pesticides, they’re literally choking the planet, and with the mild winter we’ve had, you can count on an extremely buggy summer! Because the ground never underwent an extended hard freeze, every creepy-crawly, buzzing and flying pest will witness a bumper crop season! A real nuisance for those who love the outdoors, but it doesn’t have to be….
Birds eat bugs, and bats eat more bugs – by the thousands per night! Although fuzzy, brown bats may appear a little on the eerie side, they are one of the most misunderstood flying creatures of the planet. Actually considered mammals, bats are essential to our ecosystem. Critical, bio-diverse services performed not only include insect control, but pollination and seed dispersal as well. In just about any given habitat; cities, deserts, woodlands, grasslands, rain forests, and your backyard, bat houses provide roosting spots for these beneficial flying mammals. Mounted high on a pole (15 to 20 feet) or on the side of a structure, bat houses will entice permanent residence if habitat is suitable.
The Center for Biological Diversity has published some astonishing numbers as far as bats’ value to farmers. The major concern is the quick-spreading White Nose Syndrome disease which has decimated entire bat populations in the last few years. Emerging in the Northeast, the fatal disease has spread south and west, wiping out complete colonies of cave-dwelling bats.
“Nationwide the loss of bats could mean exploding populations of insects no longer kept in check by these furry, fly-by-night mammals. Scientists have estimated that by keeping insect pests at bay and reducing the need for pesticides, bats are worth $22 billion annually to American farmers. In Colorado, these savings could reach $430 million per year; in South Dakota, $1.1 billion.
While bats are dying at rates topping 90 percent in some areas, and some species could face extinction, the risk to western bats and farmers is too great to justify easing restrictions for discretionary cave uses like recreation.”
The Center is asking for everyone’s help in protecting western bats, and preventing the spread of the deadly fungus. Simply keeping caves closed (nature’s bat houses) to tourism is a simple step in protecting bats and thwarting the war waged against their extinction.
Please take one minute and sign a letter to the U.S. Forest Service, asking for responsible management by maintaining current laws to keep bat caves closed to tourism.
This post was supposed to be on bat houses because October is supposed to be about bats. Maybe because birds are ignoring feeders and eating the bountiful harvests (in most parts of the country anyway). Texas, I feel for your wildlife and ranch animals too… so so sad. No hay, no water, nothing but parched land.
So, October and bats and Halloween… they’re always portrayed as some scary winged creatures, when in fact they’re pretty harmless. Vampire bats who suck blood exist only in very few places in the whole world. Bats are very beneficial to have around your place, just a small colony can eat tens of thousands of mosquitoes and pests in a night. If you happen to live around a lake or pond you’ve got an advantage for attracting them. Bat Houses offer roosting spots for just a few fellas, all the way up to whole colonies, which are usually around 100 to 300 bats in residential areas.
“Hi, list folks–
I really appreciate bats–at least the bats we have here out west. (I know a few vampire bats have been found crossing from the Mexican border. They make me a tad nervous, but mostly because I don’t know much about them, I suppose.)
A number of years ago, when we could still rehab bats here in Colorado, I did a week-long “boot camp” on bat rehabilitation and rearing at Bat World Sanctuary in TX. (Bats have been officially declared a rabies-vector species in CO. This means, in our state, that no one is allowed to rehab them now unless everyone on the premises has had the pre-exposure series of rabies vaccinations. Our rehab center can’t mandate that, since we have so many volunteers. So we no longer rehab bats, I’m sorry to say. The ones I’ve helped with were fascinating, gentle, intelligent-seeming creatures. Individual in-home rehabbers are the only hope left for for injured, ill, and orphaned bats in this state.)
What I recall, from a deep, dusty memory of the Bat World training, is that most bat houses that are used serve as nursery colonies–groups of mothers and their pups. It’s certainly possible that bats in the east act differently. And a one-week training years ago hardly makes me a bat expert. The most common bat species we have here is the little brown myotis. Aside from nursing colonies, these bats tend to roost during the day singly, in rock crevices, under loose bark, and wood piles. Single bats will occasionally roost in or around buildings, but it’s not their most common choice here.
So a bat house–unless you’re within 1/4-mile or so of water, where nursing colonies tend to be–doesn’t get any bats. We certainly tried on our property, before I knew this. Repeatedly. Even though we see these marvelous insectivores in decent numbers at night. But, as I said, perhaps they behave differently in areas other than arid pinyon/juniper habitat out west and will use houses as daytime roosts elsewhere.
An interesting overview article about White-nose Syndrome (WNS) appeared recently in Microbe. Don’t be fooled by the title of the journal–it’s a very readable article. Toward the end of the article, the authors mention that WNS has existed in bats in Europe for quite a while. Yet those populations have not experienced elevated mortality rates. That sounds like a promising line of research for some wildlife researchers. We surely need some hope for these valuable mammals.”