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.

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  1. #1 by Bridgette Booth on July 20, 2012 - 8:45 am

    We have two bluebird houses, but no bat or bee homes. (Thank you very much!) Love to watch the bluebirds come in and begin families. About 3 times a year we’ll have at least 6 or 7 couples checking out the homes, re-decorating, and sparring with each other for a spot. They provide a nice break in a day.

    • #2 by Leslie Berry/ @LesannBerry on July 21, 2012 - 9:38 am

      Isn’t it fun to watch the birds? I like that too. I was introduced to “birding” during a field exercise and everyone snickered and rolled their eyes…within an hour we were are darting around like lunatics, thrilled to discover one new species after another. Dorks. I’m still not good at identifying species but I do enjoy watching them visit the feeders. So far most of our nesting boxes have been ignored (except for the wasps who moved into one near the barn!). I love my bats but I want them out of the house…

  2. #3 by Marci on July 21, 2012 - 7:02 am

    We had bat houses growing up. They were so cool. We would watch for the bats to come out at dusk to feast on mosquitoes. We also had bluebird houses and wren houses. I used to love peaking in on the baby birds to see how fast they grew!I’ll have to look into the bee houses. We have lots of honey bees on our russian sage and oregano flowers. It might be cool for the kids to have their own hive to watch.

    • #4 by Leslie Berry/ @LesannBerry on July 21, 2012 - 9:40 am

      I love watching the bats zoom around and eat. How lucky that you had that when you were growing up. At the rate that our mosquito population seems to be growing, I think we need more bats! I’ve never had the nerve to look inside the bird houses but we had robins nesting in some flowerboxes and I got a peek at their tiny blue eggs last year. Let me know how your bee houses do, we’re planning some as well, for our little guy to observe. Thanks for visiting!

  3. #5 by Tonya on July 21, 2012 - 10:24 am

    I wasn’t too crazy about our visiting bats this spring; a couple came in the house through a whole-house fan. That’s how we discovered they were up there! Needless say, that was just too eventful of a moment! Thankfully, we found a humane bat removal service which found their opening through the eave. They were neat to watch swarm out. My husband watched them try to get back in the next morning. I remember briefly thinking it was too bad they had to seek shelter elsewhere at the last minute. Making a bat house is an interesting project to think about.

    • #6 by Leslie Berry/ @LesannBerry on July 23, 2012 - 6:02 pm

      I feel pretty much the same about most critter-types. I’m fine as long as I know they’re there and we respect the borders of our respective habitats. The problem is when they decide to move inside. Not cool! I may have to find a humane removal too because I’m hoping to relocate the colony rather than have them depart for a new home. If that happens, we’ll have to don protective gear to avoid the mosquitos. From what I’ve read about bat houses, it’s a mixed bag in terms of success. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

    • #7 by Batman1 on July 31, 2012 - 9:09 pm

      If you don’t have the time or the know how to build a bat house you can buy one already made up at http://www.batsbirdsyard.

      • #8 by Leslie Berry/ @LesannBerry on August 2, 2012 - 10:36 pm

        Thanks for the information!

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