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the bats are back in town

April 18, 2011

The birds have been back for several weeks, but we’re just now seeing our other

flying friends.  This is a little brown bat, about life-sized. 

   It’s a descriptive if not frightfully

   imaginative name.  Some folks

   calls it a little brown  Myotis. 

   That’s not much of an improve-

   ment, so let’s go with the first

   name.  LBB’s are one of the most

   common bats in North America. 

   They’re even in Iceland.

Jude and I see them swooping about most of the year.  I assumed they migrated in

winter.  If I lived in Iceland, I’d migrate, too.  So I had an image of them stretched

out on a beach in Mexico, sipping tiny margaritas.

I was mistaken.  LBB’s hibernate nearby, probably because Mexico is too dangerous

to visit anymore. I now believe that ours go to an abandoned mine close to the farm

with several open shafts.  When two of the vertical shafts were covered four years

ago, a clearance space had to be left in the grating for them.

LBB’s also require a separate roost for a nursery, preferably a warm place with high

humidity.  The mating process is nothing to squeak to your friends about.  It’s more

or less an orgy of awake and torpid bats.  Consent is not required.  About 35% of the

couplings are homosexual.

Females usually bear one baby, sometimes twins.  The kid hangs on mom, breast

feeding for a week or 2 no matter where she goes.  Then mom hangs junior upside

down in the nursery for a week while she forages on insects.  At 3 weeks, the new

generation is flying and feeding itself.  In a month, childhood is over. 

Adult LBB’s have separate roosts for day and night.  Our particular LBB’s have both

in our house.  The day roost is in the peak 0f the roof.  We watch them fly out at

dusk to feed.  After a few hours they go to the night roost under the siding around

the corner from the peak.  There they pack together, rest and poo until they return

to their day roost at dawn. 

There is a sizeable stretch of scat on the HardiPlank under the night roost.  LBB’s

crap away from where they spend most of their time so predators won’t know

where to find them.

One predator, our cat Ollie, found one the day I pulled down some cedar shake

siding to replace it with HardiPlank.  It was under some tar paper and started

chirping in protest.  Ollie found it right away and hustled off with his greatest

catch ever, a flying mouse.

Jude made a dandy bathouse and hung it from our huge maple tree.  We got no

tenants.  We moved it closer to the peak of the roof.  Still no takers.  I suppose we

could wait until winter and block off the entrances to the roosts, but an LBB can

fit through a quarter-inch space.  They’ll roost where they damn well please.

No big deal.  It’s fun to watch them roll out at sunset and gobble up the mosquitoes

that otherwise would be gobbling up Jude.


Weather Update: our neighbour Chris, featured in the comments below, told me

that he and Nina recently had two nights of sub-freezing weather and frozen water

lines, the latest in April they’ve had in 32 years.  He also sent a wonderful photo that

I cannot get to jump from e-mail to blog.  I’ll figure it out soon, but now I have to go

clean out the dreaded shed.  I’ve exhausted my extensive list of excuses.

  1. Charlotte Wales permalink
    April 18, 2011 10:21 am

    According to what I’ve read and studies about bats (I think they’re great!) they like to roost in a bat house placed high on the north side of the house, maybe under the eaves. Did you know they consume twice their weight in mosquitos at night? Go Bats!!

    • April 18, 2011 11:00 am

      We put the bathouse on the south end of the house, close to where they now claim home. But it was near a window I sometimes climb out of to clean the chimney. Maybe that was the problem. Thanks, Charlotte. Go, Bats! Go, Canucks!

  2. Chris permalink
    April 18, 2011 11:23 am

    Our bats have been up and around for a few days, too. Last night I was happy to hear several flocks of geese flying over our house on their way north. They flew in a clear sky lighted by an almost full moon. It will be full moon tonight.

  3. April 18, 2011 5:59 pm

    We had bats in our “belfry” when I was growing up, they occupied the northwest corner of our house, and after a few years, the guano actually was seeping out of the clapboard sides of the house. Ewww! My friend Tess and I would get stoned and watch the bats come out at sunset.

    • April 18, 2011 6:50 pm

      When we moved in 5+ years ago, we tore a kitchen wall down to the studs because of water damage over the years. There had been a bat roost near the ceiling. They were long gone but the smell was still overpowering. Good word, “guano”. I should have used it in the post.

      • April 19, 2011 2:08 pm

        It’s great fertilizer though! Hope you saved it and threw it on the compost heap.

      • April 19, 2011 2:30 pm

        I didn’t think to. I was wearing what looked like a Haz-Mat suit from Goodwill and treating the guano (there, I got to use it) like radioactive waste. I moved as fast as one safely can on scaffolding so I could get out of that outfit. I don’t even remember what I did with it. As I recall, I immediately called happy hour so I could sip some suds.

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