Friday, August 31, 2012

Birds, Bats, Rats, Owls and Raccoons

I feel pretty good right now. It may have something to do with the three (THREE!) cups of coffee I had this morning before walking my dog. It could also be that I'm not feeling as sick today as I've been for the last few.

It was like a light switch flicked on. One minute I was fine and the next minute I was sick. It hit me hard and fast. I was hoping it would go away just as quickly, but it hasn't. I'm kind of a baby when it comes to being sick. I like to take it easy, eat soup and take naps. I know that it may sound like I'm sick all the time by that description, but there is nothing wrong with eating soup and taking naps on a regular basis. And when I'm sick, I complain a lot and take naps and eat soup. When I'm not sick, I'm cheerfully eating soup and napping for pleasure. See the difference?

Never mind.

My dog walk today took me past a house that is growing grapes on their property. A vineyard, if you will. Next to the vineyard, there was a box on a stick with a hole in it. The first thing I thought of was that it was a bat box. For bats. The flying kind.

It really got me thinking. There are bat boxes, owl boxes and bird houses. Don't they all have a box with a hole in it for something to live inside? How do the different animals know that it's for them? Why wouldn't a bird go live in a bat box? Or conversely, why wouldn't a bat go live in a bird house?

Upon further investigation, a bat box seems to be a little bit of different. Amazon sells one that is made to the specifications of the Organization for Bat Conservation. If the OBC has specifications, there must be more to it than a hole in a box. And after looking at the one mentioned and some others online, what I saw today was probably not a bat box at all.

So what about owls? These look a lot like bird houses with bigger holes. This place has some that you can buy and even recommends them for rodent control. I could have used them a while ago! Not that I could put one in my kitchen, but still...

I will stop there, yeah, yeah, bird houses are nothing to write home about. Although, bird feeders are another story. I have tried in the past to make pinecone bird feeders only to end up feeding some other critter. Cover the pinecone with peanut butter, roll them in bird seed and hang them by fishing line down from the back deck so that it hangs in front of your daughter's window and she'll be able to watch the birds from her room. OR find that a raccoon has pulled up the fishing line and run off with the pinecone leaving only peanut butter footprints behind. I'm sure this happens to everyone, right?


hokgardner said...

True story - my mom used to work at a birdwatching supply store in ATL. The store sold bat boxes. One day a woman came in, bought a bat box, and then asked, "Where do I buy the bats?" While the staff choked back laughter, the cashier informed the woman that she couldn't buy bat, that she just had to put the bat box up and hope they found. "If I am spending this much money on a bat box, I want a guarantee there will be bats! Where can I get some."

They gave her the number to Zoo Atlanta and wished her well.

Another true story. UF built a gorgeous tennis stadium in the early 90s. Turns out, the underside was heaven for bats, and the place quickly reeked of bat poop. So UF rounded up a bunch of bat biologists, and they built the biggest, nicest bat box ever seen. They located it out in a field next to a lake, which should have been dream real estate for the bats. Then they trapped some of the tennis bat and locked them in the bat house for two days. They let them out two days later, hoping they'd go back to their friends and tell them all about the great new digs.

Last I heard, the bats are still living in the tennis stadium, and the official home of the "University of Florida Gator Bats" is still empty.

ckh said...

That's the part I find so intriguing. Who's to say what will inhabit whichever box you put up? Or I guess, will they inhabit it at all?