Thankful Outdoors: Building a Bat House & How to Get Your Own!

Austyn with bat house
Austyn with bat house

Building a Bat House

This week’s weather has been seasonally warm, as I sit on the deck during the evening listening to the frogs chirping to each other. It brings back memories of being a kid and how my brothers and I spent most of the summer months sleeping in a tent.

Being country kids, we found unique ways to entertain ourselves during those summer evenings. One of our past times was to take a potato, drop it in a sock and throw it around the yard, watching the bats swoop down at the spud. We would lure the bats in with this decoy and then try to throw a football at the swooping bats.

Our young arms were no match for the bats’ keen radar; we didn’t care, though, and would spend many a summer nights doing this activity. We would encourage each other on though yelling, “wow, you were close on that one!”

I had the opportunity this week to sit down and talk with Connor’s friend, Austyn Kohls; this chat started with the boys stopping by the house to pick up a tape measure. I asked what they were up to, and they said, “checking the height of poles.” Of course, with a response like this, I had more questions.

It was refreshing to have a conversation with a teenager who didn’t talk about a video game or include many slang words. This week, I would like to share what I learned from Austyn with you as we spoke about bat houses.

Austyn is a member of Boys Scout Troop 385 Marshfield. The scout leaders for this troop currently are Brad Kohls and Dave Weber. Austyn started in Boys Scout in 5th grade; he has worked his way through the ranks and is presently at Life rank.

Austyn’s goal is to reach Eagle rank, and this is where the bat house project comes into play. He had to pick a project to work on to achieve the next level. A prior troop member had done a project in McMillan Swamp based around wood duck houses. Austyn wanted to do something different; he noticed bat houses attached to the silo off Mann Street. Those existing bat houses created his interest in doing the bat house project.

The building bat house plans were obtained from Kent Borcherding; Kent has worked with the Wisconsin DNR to help create the houses on Yellowstone Lake. His knowledge of building bat houses has earned him the nickname, Father of Bat House Research!

Now that Austyn knew how to build a bat house, he had to obtain permission from the property manager that oversees McMillan Swamp. Once the consent was obtained, holes were drilled for the posts, and the structure for where he would establish the bat houses was created.

The location of the bat houses will be near the existing silo location off Mann Street. Austyn believes that the bat houses installed on the silo are not very active because the concrete from the silo is making the bat houses cold.

The structure that he built is free-standing and in the open. This location will receive sunlight throughout the majority of the day. He wanted to see if mounting the houses in a specific direction would make a difference, so he has houses mounted in north/south and east/west directions.

There are different bat house styles; you can have a single chamber or a multi-chamber bat house. A single chamber bat house could support a colony size of 50 to 100 bats. A multi-chamber bat house could keep a colony size of 150 to 400 bats.

It could take up to two years before bats would take full-time residency of a bat house. Signs that your bat house is being used would be droppings on the ground directly under the bat house. You could also wait for dusk or early morning to see if bats fly out or back to the house.

Bats help keep insect populations in check. It has been said that bats will eat 4,000 mosquito-sized insects in a single night. That sure is a lot of insects!

If you are interested in purchasing your own bat house, you could contact Austyn at 715-650-0125; he asks that you put BAT HOUSE in the text message.

As I had mentioned, it was neat to have this conversation with Austyn and learn a bit about what he was doing.  I think the kids nowadays would say, “Oh, Sick!” Yeah, I’m not going to put that slang into my typical day-to-day talk. I wonder what phrase I used as a teenager made my parents cringe?

In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out www.thankfuloutdoors.com for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!

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News Desk
Author: News Desk

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