How to attract bats to your back yard

  • Article by: BILL MARCHEL SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
  • Updated: July 25, 2013 - 8:20 PM
hide

Marchel landed this hard-to-get shot of a little brown bat sleeping in a carefully placed bat house.

Photo: Photos by Bill Marchel • Special to the Star Tribune,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– Bats, those winged critters of the night. The mere thought of them can send shivers up the spine of even the toughest humans. Why would anyone want to attract these scary mammals to his or her yard?

Bats are one of the least understood animals. The ignorant have bestowed upon them all sorts of evil traits, most of which are untrue. In reality, bats are very valuable to our increasingly fragile environment.

Sure, once in a while they wiggle through tiny cracks or crevasses into our homes and frighten us as they expertly dodge tennis rackets or brooms while flying helter-skelter from room to room. But bats also eat insects, and lots of them. Studies show a single bat may eat thousands of mosquitoes in one night. For that, we should provide them with a home.

Bat houses are available from most stores that sell bird-feeding products, or you can build your own bat house. The book “Woodworking for Wildlife” by Carrol Henderson includes simple plans for building two different types of inexpensive bat houses. Bat houses differ from bird houses in that bats enter the multichambered house from below rather than through a hole in the side.

Despite their unattractive appearance and bad reputation, bats provided me with one of my most memorable outdoor experiences. I was bow hunting for deer in early September not far from the bat house that hangs under the eave on the side of my house. From my perch in an ash tree I watched as the sun set over a pond — the afterglow a radiant yellow-orange — when a great horned owl flew from the depths of the mostly green forest and landed atop a dead tree. Moments later several bats appeared. The winged mammals flew randomly about during their insect gathering forays, and the owl followed their every move, its head swiveling back and forth signaling its intent.

No way, I thought. A large, cumbersome great horned owl would not have a chance at capturing a radar-equipped bat on the wing.

Suddenly the owl sprang from its perch. The big bird-of-prey flew directly upward toward its intended target — a bat winging a few yards above its head. I watched in amazement, a predator-prey confrontation unfolding in silhouette against the brilliant orange sky. Upon reaching its intended victim the owl swung its large feet upward and, with needle-sharp talons, snatched from below the clueless bat.

The owl returned to its original perch where it downed the bat in one gulp. Three times the owl repeated the performance.

Had I not placed a bat house at my residence I may not have witnessed the unusual predator-prey interaction. Reason enough for me to provide a home for bats.

Bill Marchel, an outdoor writer and photographer, lives near Brainerd.

  • related content

  • Bat house basics

    Thursday July 25, 2013

    Consider these factors when placing your bat house:1  Your bat house  should be situated to receive maximum...

  • Bat houses do well under the eaves of houses and garages.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - C. Frias 2:10 PM
Colorado - J. De La Rosa
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 2:40 PM
Arizona - A. Chafin
Boston - C. Buchholz 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano
Toronto - J. Happ 6:05 PM
Baltimore - B. Norris
Washington - B. Treinen 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Miami - H. Alvarez 6:10 PM
NY Mets - D. Gee
NY Yankees - B. McCarthy 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb
Cincinnati - D. Corcino 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
Chicago WSox - C. Sale 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Cleveland - C. Carrasco 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Detroit - D. Price 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Gibson
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 7:15 PM
St. Louis - A. Wainwright
Seattle - J. Paxton 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Wilson
Texas - D. Holland 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close