Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gimme shelter

Category: Places for Cover
Required points: 2
Suggested sources: Wooded Area • Bramble Patch • Ground Cover • Rock Pile or Wall • Cave • Roosting Box • Dense Shrubs or Thicket • Evergreens • Brush or Log Pile • Burrow • Meadow or Prairie • Water Garden or Pond

The Places for Cover credit requires a little explanation to differentiate it from the Places to Raise Young credit (to be described in a future post). National Wildlife Federation describes the cover credit:

Wildlife need places to hide to feel safe from people, predators, and inclement weather. Native vegetation is a perfect cover for terrestrial wildlife. Shrubs, thickets and brush piles provide great hiding places within their bushy leaves and thorns.

Bat box: Bat boxes are rather like bird nesting or roosting boxes, only entry is through the bottom. A typical bat box also includes some parallel interior walls. Bats don't need much personal space, but they do need a surface to cling to. I picked-up my bat box, ready-made at Lowe's, for about $20. Installation was a matter of a stepladder, a cordless drill to bore a pilot hole and start the screws, and fifteen minutes of my time. My then 12-month-old son was enthralled by this process.
Alas, no bats have yet taken-up residence in my bat box. In fact, I haven't been certain that I've seen a single bat all season. What troubles me is that I don't think that this is simply a matter of probability and the fact that getting my son ready for bed means that I spend less time outside in the evening than I used to. I'm concerned that this is indicative of white nose syndrome, the fungal plague that is apparently decimating Eastern bat populations. It seems that there just aren't any bats around.

Evergreen trees: Since I like to exploit some of the features that were already in my yard before I started gearing-up my habitat, I'm leaning on the two (likely exotic) evergreen trees that crowd the west wall of my home for one of my Cover points. Evergreens provide a place for birds to roost and evade predators, year-round.


Sue said...

We've been talking about a bat box, but aren't sure where to attach it. Our rather flimsy manufactured house, doesn't offer any good places to place it. We've been thinking about getting a good 20 foot post -- except that with two little cars, we have no way of getting a post home.

We have good dense thicket, with blackberry brambles and shrubs and small trees on the bank below our house (and on the bank above the house--although we don't own that property). A storm a few weeks ago, brought down the top of our American elm, creating yet another windfall to shelter critters.

E. R. Dunhill said...

That is a conundrum. I would offer that I've seen a few sources that suggest that the box only needs 10' or 12' clearance from the ground for little guys, like myotis. (Although I don't have a good sense of what kinds of bats predominate in your neck of the woods.) That number is a lot easier to achieve than the 20' spec you see in many places.
My bat box happens to be at about 10', and is attached to a maple tree with about a 12" trunk diameter.

Pat Jenkins said...

for one who has had bats take residence in my residence i could of used a bat box a looong time ago. fortunately they have found a new home "bat box"... he he... happy father's day erd!! and to all the other father's of those here at the b.i.a.!