Thursday, June 14, 2007

Goin' Batty

A week ago, I installed mesh netting along the fascia that forms a little triangle at the skylight above our kitchen. That's where the bats had made their roost.

A few days ago, looking up at the kitchen ceiling. Big Dog says ominously, "They're still here."

I go up onto the roof and find several bats caught in the chicken wire. One is dead so I cut away the wire and remove it. I am also able to cut enough wire away to release one of the live guys. He flies away in total disgust. I don't blame him. There's another one caught in wire but it's caught in such a way that it's harder to release. I start snipping away but it screams at me, barring its sharp little teeth. I drop my scissors with a girly "eeek!" but am eventually able to cut away enough wire that it can crawl back behind the fascia.

Maybe if I leave the netting open, more bats can come out, I think, and remove some of the netting while I hose down the roof. The stench is horrible. Noticing more guano near our solar water heater panels, I begin hosing under them. To our surprise, a dozen bats fly out!

"I knew they were living there!" Big Dog gives me an "a-ha!" look from down in the garden.

I am blasting away, hoping to get as many bats out of there as possible before I begin netting the solar panels, too. When I come down from the roof, Big Dog asks, "So, how do you build this bathouse thing?" I was online last summer when we first fought the bats and one bat conservation site had a "how to" on building a simple bathouse, but back then, Big Dog wasn't at all interested in building one. Now, he's studying the diagram.

We gather old plywood and other materials for the bathouse, argue a bunch about how it's built until Big Dog finally walks away, leaving me to finish it alone. I spray paint a silhouette of a bat on the box, put a little "vacancy" sign below it, and stick it up on a post near the south side of the Kinu Orchard. It's totally cute. What bat wouldn't want to go in there?!

Later in the afternoon, as I'm watering the garden, I look up at the kitchen skylight. There are bats hanging on the OUTSIDE of the fascia! Sheesh. I crawl back up to the roof. Oh, no, they are baby bats. Every bat site I went to tells me that you can't "transplant" bats into a bathouse and that you should never handle bats, but I just can't leave baby bats hanging on our fascia! It's not easy, but with a bit of perseverance, I have managed to gently get the babies into a brown paper bag and take them to the bathouse. That's when Ranger Lady arrives.

"Oh! You've made a bathouse! I love bats!" she squeals.
"Yeah and I've got some babies here that I'm trying to get to move in…"
"Oooooh, let me see?" She peers into the paper bag. The bats are all bunched up. "Awwww, they're trying to suckle each other."

But then she brings up the possibility that they might be Townshend's Big Eared Bats, an endangered species (I find out later that these are just common pallid bats) and that bats don't like arid areas. I've put the bathouse up in an area that normally doesn't get any water. Guess I'll have to water that zone now.

"R, look! Bad Dog's got some baby bats!" she calls out to R, the Glass Guy's girlfriend who recently moved in with him. She's tending her vegetable plot in the Kinu Orchard, but comes over in a while to look.

"I think bats are disgusting," she says and peers up into the bathouse. I've finally managed to coax the babies in. "Eeeeeeew."

Well, it's two days since we've put up the bathouse. It doesn't really look like they are moving in, but I keep hoping…


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