Housing the Bats, Birds & Bees

Birdbox with occupant

Birdbox with occupant

Living in the country presents the opportunity to interact with wildlife. Most of the time that’s pretty cool. I complain about the voracious appetite of the deer but I enjoy watching them browse across the fields. Introducing our son to snakes and salamanders, eagles and osprey, has been satisfying. He’s growing up with a different experience of natural cycles than his parents.

Anyone could move in.

Then there’s the other side of living rural. The um-I-think-a-bat-just-buzzed-the-couch part. I love bats but I prefer them outside eating mosquitos rather than circling the living room. Occasionally one finds its way inside the house and there’s great excitement until he’s caught and released. It doesn’t help that they’re nesting in the attic. I’ve seen how bat colonies grow and we’re about to experience a population burst. That’s good for the bats, bad for the insect population, good for us, and bad for the house. They have to go but I don’t want them to go too far.

So…enter Brilliant Plan #1: BUILD BAT BOXES to encourage the brood to relocate outside the attic.

bat box

Bat box.

If you’ve never heard of these, it’s essentially the same idea as building bird houses. Which brought up the conversation of barn swallows. These are lovely pretty little birds who swoop around the trees, loop-de-loop through the air, and reproduce like the proverbial rabbits. They also eat their weight in insects so I’m thinking they should stay too.

So…enter Brilliant Plan #2: BUILD BIRD HOUSES to encourage more swallows to homestead the property.

bird house

Bird house.

My bird identification skills pretty much stop at anything smaller than a hawk, so it’s possible what I think are barn swallows are something else entirely. For that reason we’re making a range of homes in case one-size-does-not-fit-all. I’m not hip to the bird perspective of the world so we’re out to accommodate as many as possible. The robins and Stellar jays need friends.

While I was perusing plans, I stumbled across Bee houses. Yes, bee houses. I know. But why not?! We already have bees. They live quite happily in the walls of one of our old out-buildings and buzz around when the weather warms up like there’s some jubilant event pending. Apparently different bees like different kinds of housing. Who knew? This required additional research.

So…enter Brilliant Plan #3: BUILD BEE HOUSES to assist our wild buzzies in pollinating like mad.

Mason Bee nest.

Bee box.

There are helpful places where you can purchase pre-made houses, but there are also DIY sites that offer everything you need (in theory), to construct various styles of houses.

Loss of roosting and feeding sites, flower-rich meadows, and the use of pesticides has impacted all of these species. Habitat is critical for thriving populations of bats, birds and bees…how are yours doing? Think about it. Maybe you’ll want to build some new homes too.