Going Batty

For many years I knew very little about bats. I knew they got into attics and that people had little time for them.

A few years ago, when I woke up just before dawn up here on the mountain, I sat drinking my coffee in the living room and looking out the window as parts of the mountain came alive and other parts went to sleep. Owls quit hooting and quail emerged. Suddenly lightening fast flashes streaked by outside the window. I was intrigued and sat transfixed. As dawn broke something landed on the flashing below the roof. It stayed for a moment, seemed to slip down, and then darted away. This happened repeatedly until final I could see it was a bat. What happened next was remarkable. Somehow this creature managed to hang on to the eaves and squeeze up under the flashing.

I got up early for the next few days and observed this same phenomenon repeatedly.  I had known Dave Johnston from my days of working with him at the Youth Science Institute. He had become a bat expert.  And I had come to appreciate the amazing place bats have in keeping the planet in balance. They eat up bugs at a phenomenal rate, are under appreciated and at risk. Gordon, my husband who had built much of our furniture, understood this and found plans for building a bat house. He built one which we installed under the eaves by our porch. It had a grooved backboard which gives bats a “ladder” for climbing in and a slit which they can also use to access the interior.

Since then we have regularly provided hostel space for bats. Some years we have them; some years we don’t. But this year is good. We walk by them in daylight, knowing they are securely sleeping. And at night they swoop out and diminish our bug population. They are back! How do we know? You decide.