Bats in the Belfry


Loretta LiefveldIt’s so much fun having bats.

We first found out about our bats before we ever moved in. My husband, Rob, was showing his latest firearm purchase to the foreman building our log home, and the sound of the shot startled some bats that had discovered the small (very, very small) opening between the logs and the fascia board at the very top of the front porch. It startled both of them, and they called me over to watch. As they took another shot, even more bats flew out.

I had never seen bats flying up close, although I had seen them at a distance at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.  I really wasn’t sure these were actually bats. They sort of look like small birds when they’re flying.  But we looked up and we could see ‘shadows’ of their little bodies in that crack, moving upward toward the top of the peaked porch roof.  When they got to the top, they would pause for a minute and then swoop out and down, before flying off in the dusk.

Once we moved in, they never failed us. You could almost set your clock by them. At 8 p.m., they would make that same little daredevil trip, diving out to feed on insects. I was fascinated by them. We moved here from a Southern California suburb, where there were NO bats.  Because I had seen them at Carlsbad Caverns, I had somehow assumed that they just lived in caves – not houses!

As the number of bats grew, they started bedding down in the fascia over our bedroom doors. It didn’t matter whether it was still quite light, or if darkness had started creeping in. At 8 p.m., we could see them start their nightly journey while we were watching TV. At first, there were 25, then 50 bats. Later, we estimated at least 100, if not more. Rob grew concerned that there might be some kind of health issue with the bats. So I started researching them. It seemed that there could be a health problem with their feces, but since they weren’t IN the house, and we don’t have an attic, it seemed harmless to let them live there.

Not only was it great fun to watch them ourselves, but they provided wonderful ‘entertainment’ to our guests. On a warm summer evening, we always opened all of the doors and windows, so the night air could cool off the house. Occasionally, a bat would get misdirected into our house.  It would fly around near the top of our vaulted ceiling, looking for a way to get out. Sometimes, they would make their way into our bedroom, flying frantically in a circle, into the master bath, and then out into the living room.  We made a ‘bat net’, and Rob got very good at capturing the bat, so we could release it back where it belonged.

5/6/2016 5:42:54 PM

Great article. We have a bat house full of bats and they do smell when you get down wind. But our mosquito population is taking a beating.

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