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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As many of you have probably heard, North American bat populations are in big trouble as a result of an emergent, poorly understood disease termed “white-nose-syndrome” (WNS) that attacks bats during their winter hibernation (European bats appear to be immune). As a long-time bat lover I’ve been following this situation with increasing trepidation, and have decided to do something to help preserve the local bat population.

BACKGROUND INFO:
WNS was first discovered in New York in 2007 and has decimated bat colonies throughout the northeastern US: the mortality rate in some caves has exceeded 90 percent and more than 1 million bats have died. Since it’s discovery the disease has spread rapidly, and is now present in 18 states and 4 provinces (see attached map).

WHY EVEN BAT-HATERS/BAT-A-PHOBES SHOULD CARE:
During the summer bats can consume their own body weight in insects each night. The Forest Service estimates that the die-off from WNS means that at least 2.4 million pounds of bugs (1.1 million kg) will go uneaten this year and become a financial burden to farmers. As a result of the continuing die-off of bats, crop production may require more and more insecticides, raising environmental worries and pushing up grocery prices.

THE CHALLENGE:
One of the reasons WNS is so devastating to bat populations is that most of the species affected have low reproductive rates (one offspring a year), making recovery difficult. You can help bats by providing them with safe roosts to use during the summer, thereby increasing their chances of successfully raising young and helping to ensure that adults are in peak condition when they enter hibernation in the fall.

So, I challenge fellow North Americans to build bat-houses and post pictures of your finished projects on this thread - hopefully your pictures will inspire others to take up the challenge. Note: bat roosting requirements are strict, so it's important to adhere to the construction details provided.


PDF with plans for 3 different bat-houses: Building a Bat House

More info on WNS: White nose syndrome: Current news
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My bat house

My bat house.

I built the bat nursery house (pg. 13 in the PDF linked to in OP).

I diverged from the provided plans in using 5/8 exterior plywood for all exposed surfaces (I had a lot of scrap available). The house was built entirely with leftovers from other projects:
 

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are they saying scoring with a knife is all thats needed for roosting or is that in addition to the grooves cut in?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
how many houses per acre? great project for me and my grandson
There’s no limit to the number of houses you can put up - bats are very social and like living together in large colonies so houses don’t need to be spaced out. You can even mount multiple houses on the same pole/building. (Of course, the number of your houses that get occupied will depend on how many bats live in your area.)

The most important factor (to the bats) is the environment in which you locate your houses:
  • Bats like it hot (90 F°-100 F°), so put your bat house where it will receive large amounts of sunlight. Orientate the house in a south to southeast facing direction to capture as much midday sun as possible. Six hours of direct sunlight a day is ideal. If two bat houses are being installed back to back, place one facing south and one facing north or one facing east and one west to allow for varying temperatures.
  • Bats are associated with water, especially maternity colonies, so putting your bat house within
    a quarter mile of a water source such as creek, pond, river, lake or stream, is a great way to
    encourage bats to take up residence.
  • The best habitat for many species contains lots of diversity. Place your bat house in an area
    with a mixed agriculture/forest/urban landscape.
  • Mount your bat house away from trees to discourage predation and allow for flyways. Place it
    about 10-15 feet away from trees, but keep it sheltered from winds. Do not place on top of a hill
    where it may be subject to excessive winds.
  • Reduce tall vegetation (shrubs and bushes) below the base of your bat house.



 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
are they saying scoring with a knife is all thats needed for roosting or is that in addition to the grooves cut in?
Scoring with a knife is all that's needed (alternatively, you could saw/route grooves).
 

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I haven't seen a bat in this area since I was about nine or ten. I'm now 66 and live in the center of St. Petersburg, Florida. Would a house like this actually attract bats?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I haven't seen a bat in this area since I was about nine or ten. I'm now 66 and live in the center of St. Petersburg, Florida. Would a house like this actually attract bats?
If there aren't any bats at all in your area then a bat house won't work for you - but you might want to give it a shot anyway, bats might occationally venture into your area to forage even if they're not currently roosting there.

Here's a link to a source of info on your local bats:

Florida Bat Conservancy
 

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I have a feeling I'll spend hours building one of these, then they'll just roost in my soffits anyway. Yes, I have plenty of bats.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have a feeling I'll spend hours building one of these, then they'll just roost in my soffits anyway. Yes, I have plenty of bats.
LOL

You must have really awesome soffits!

Congratulations on having plenty of bats though, and hope it stays that way in your area. Pennsylvania's been seeing some heavy losses.
 

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Hey jules4,
[Pennsylvania's been seeing some heavy losses. ]

I'm in the south central part of the state, and we are just begining to see them after about a 4-5 years, of not seeing them.

We bought our house here in 99, we're in a rural setting, and we had many of them.

Now I'm seeing them again, I want to build some houses for them.
 

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Jules--I made this a sticky----I don't know how I missed this thread---

Very important subject----Mike----
 
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Does it count that I let them live in my (currently non-functioning) chimneys? Along with the Swifts I've got quite a bug destroying population :thumbsup:.

I will be SURE to add bat boxes to the budget when it comes time to re-line the chimneys and evict the wildlife. I hoped it would be this year... but so far the lottery hasn't hit yet.....

Nice thread.
 
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Tileguy
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Interesting!

We have "Big Brown Bats" here. That is their species not necessarily their description 'cause they aren't very big at all. I have had building a bat house or two or three on my mind for some time but just never seem to get around to it.

This post sent me on a search to see what I could find out about local bats and much to my surprise the first page or two of my Google Search turned up nothing but bat eradication procedures. That surprises me because this is a super heavy agriculture area and there are certain moths that can destroy corn crops and that bats seem to love.

The University of Nebraska was one of the few mentions of building bat houses and encouraging their existence. Everyone else seems to want to see them all dead.:)

My son and I have enjoyed watching the bats feed at night. We have a yard light high on a pole that attracts lotsa bugs and also bats in the air and toads on the ground. :)

Thanks jules for the information.:)
 

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I'm in Austin where we have the second largest urban colony of bats in the world. I built a bat house two years ago and within one month a woodpecker pounded a hole in it and built a nest. The next spring I watched a squirrel gnaw the hole bigger to fit her nest in it. She would lay on top of the roof of it during the day until one day she was lounging there and it fell. Not built for squirrel weight. Never did get any bats in it but the other animals loved it!
 

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We have an unused chimney that has about 2 inches of space between it and the house. For at least the past 14 years there have been bats clinging to the chimney. I can't get a good count of how many there are, but 14 is fairly close.

It looks like there is room for more of them on the chimney, so would it be worth building another house for more bats?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hey jules4,

I'm in the south central part of the state, and we are just begining to see them after about a 4-5 years, of not seeing them.

We bought our house here in 99, we're in a rural setting, and we had many of them.

Now I'm seeing them again, I want to build some houses for them.
Great idea - and please come back and post a picture of your bat houses!

If I build or buy a well-thought-out and well-executed bat house, what is the likeyhood of having some roost in it in hartford county, ct?
Unfortunately there’s no way to know in advance - but it’s not a big investment in time to build one so why not put one up and see what happens? And don’t give up if it remains unoccupied for the first year, sometimes it takes a year or two (or more) for bats to move in.

If you decide to buy a bat house make sure its design conforms to guidelines given in the PDF I linked in the OP - a lot of the commercially available bat houses completely ignore bat roosting requirements and just stick a bat-shaped hole on a birdhouse.

We have an unused chimney that has about 2 inches of space between it and the house. For at least the past 14 years there have been bats clinging to the chimney. I can't get a good count of how many there are, but 14 is fairly close.

It looks like there is room for more of them on the chimney, so would it be worth building another house for more bats?
A good bat house would provide a better roosting environment for them, but I don’t know if you’d wind up with anymore bats than you have now.
 

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Appreciate the offerings. I have a long list of things Bud would like to do given the time to do them.

I don't think bats range very far on their evening jaunts, maybe jules could enlighten us on that fact.

We have a huge 100 plus year old barn on the property and I'm sure that is where they are nesting but I have looked and never found them. There is a huge hay loft and I can't see all of it. They must be there somewhere. If I had a bat house and they used it then it would be easier to observe them but my question is...would they use it if it is just around the corner from where they are hanging out now?:)
 
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