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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to visit with someone that has a successful bat house. Mine aren't getting used, with few exceptions. I purchased a bat detector which works well, and I see the little guys often, but they are not buying. There are some folks down by Fox Island that have had good luck with their bat houses, and Sully's Hill too.
 

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Dick,
I am curious about the benefits of having the bats around. Is it for bug control? Or is it just something fun to do. What does a bat house look like?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
gg, my non-occupied houses are 16" wide, 24" high, and 3/4" deep, in multiple layers. The plans came from Bat Conservation International, a very interesting web site, if you are into non game species. The occupied houses at Sullys Hill, (dare I say Devils Lake), are a box type, much like a wood duck house, only with a 1" entry slit in the bottom, and 3/4" partitions inside.

Bats are astonishing to watch as they feed, very nimble, and one of the longestest lived mammals. I purchased a high frequency bat detector last year for $40. After sundown my wife and I take it to likely spots, and the feeding call is clearly received--it's called a "feeding buzz". Last week I stepped outside for a smoke after dark, and when I flipped on the yard light, a Big Brown did a half roll right over the top of my parked pickup, taking a large moth, not 6' from me. The benifit of bats is their huge appetite for insects. They are an animal that is around us constantly, yet rarely observed because we do not take the time to look.
 

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Dick:

In Folsom, we have a historic downtown and a colony of Mexican free tailed-bats has taken residence in a building located on the corner of the main street. There is an Italian restaurant that has a balcony overlooking the old main street, and on several dining occasions, I have witnessed the colony emerge and travel down the main street to the American River approximately 0.5 mile away. The first time I saw it was absolutely awe inspiring. I have been able to witness the spectacle three more times and I would estimate that the colony is 500 - 800.

As to your question, I have a friend from graduate school currently studying bats for his Ph.D. dissertation. I will contact him and find out some good strategies for your bat house location. Just for my own curiosity, I took a quick perusal of a reference book I have on my shelf. It appears that the following bats are typically found in N.D.: big brown bat, silver-haired bat, eastern red bat, hoary bat, little brown bat, and northern long-eared bat. Of these, the big brown bat is apparently the most adapted to humans as they predominantly utilize attics, barns, bridges, or other man-made structures for summer roosts. The others predominantly utilize trees for roosts (makes sense since these bats are adapted to the grasslands, trees would be the most obvious choice for available roosts). Also, the book did contain some very elementary information on bat houses. According to this book, solar radiation is key for thermoregulation. Therefore, it appears that you want to locate the bat house in a sunny locale and attempt to get it high in the air (greater than 10 feet) to create the sensation of a tree. Also, the choice of color may influence the temperature, so you may need to experiment with a couple different shades of brown.

Once I get a hold of my friend, I will get back to you or put you in direct contact.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
bioman, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Greg Gullickson from NDGF did a neat publication on ND species. I found a colony of Little Browns in a house near VC. I don't dare tell the owner or she would go nuts, so can only watch them at night. BCWF dug in power poles for me so the houses are high enough, and I painted them flat black, (maybe too warm), and have a couple under railroad bridges too. They are very fussy fellows, not like wood ducks and tree swallows.

My wife and I took the detector out Monday nite and it was just going crazy. Fun!
 

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A timely subject, last night the local news ran a story on a colony of 50,000 Mexican free tailed bats that have a maternity roost under a major bypass bridge (the colony is the largest known in Northern California). As an added bonus, they showed footage of the bats leaving the roost. The footage was simply amazing as the bats literally made a black vortex as they took flight, and the flock (their estimate) stretched over a 1/4 mile.

They made a interesting point about bats, females will form maternity roosts and the males will usually form their own roost nearby. Both groups require different temperatures, so that is why they separate. Sorry for the rambling, my original point is that I found a book that should really help out your project - The Bat House Builder's Handbook. You should be able to locate a copy at Powells (the largest independent book store in the U.S. - I highly recommend them and purchases over $50 receive free shipping!).
Here is the link...

http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?i ... r_id=26721
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
bio, if it is the same title from Bat Conservation International, I have it. They wanted plastic mesh inside, now people say don't use it. The only occupied bat house I can find is the old European style, at Sully's Hill. Maybe my locations are just wrong, it takes expermenting, but moving the power poles-----uggggge! When I talk to people in Mnn., they can almost hang a tin can and get bats. I have the condo delux and am dry. I appreciate your help. This will be a long term project.
 

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In this part of MN your are correct. Lots of little bats. I see them in the yard every night - not sure where they are nesting / denning locally.

See many occupied bat homes in the lake country.

When you hang your bat houses - where will the new bats come from ?

In MN I would imagine that dispersal of young bats from other houses or natural bat dens would fill empty bat houses rather quickly. In other words bats make bats ... all those young bats disperse to find new homes.

In ND the bat density may be lower, especially in your area?

If you are too far from other colonies the dispersal function may not be working in your favor.

Most MN bat houses that I have seen are the simple design you mention later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
ph, bats are low level reproducers, 1 or 2 young per year, and not every year. They need optimum conditions to do well in an area. I suspect that one of the reasons it's hard to get them in a bat house is that there are so many abandoned farm building in ND, ideal locations for a colony. Another reason my be Dutch Elm disease which left lots of dead trees with loose bark for roosting spots. If you have some kids around your lake cabin get a "simple bat detector" from the web. It is around $30-$40 and they will have a blast with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Almost finished combining wheat tonight, quit when it got tough after sundown. Sat in the dark with a can of cold light and the bats were feeding like crazy. Northern lights in the sky all across the horizon. You could see every star and the wind was blowing hard and hot. You wouldn't think hunting season is this close. Bats must be getting ready to head for Minnesota.
 

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Dick:
The other night I had a little brown bat ( i think) buzzing around the street light. I'm a good 1/2 mile from the Sheynne River...may have to put together a bat house and see if it works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Doug, I have plans for the "rocket bat house" and still have some cedar boards left from the grant. Will make you one this winter. Have to get hunting out of the way first.
 

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There are a pile of bats around my house in minot. We just sit in the back yard in the hot tub at dusk and watch those things fly around. If you wouldn't know better you might think they are birds. My kids love it.
 

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From what I know about bat houses, they do not move into houses that are constructed of woods that contain glue's such as plywood, particle board, etc. until the house has weathered a few years outside and lost the "manufactured" scent, they like the natural smell. I have been told it is best to construct them from "old" wood, such as old barn's, shed's, etc. that you are tearing down. So, as far as painting them black for the heat, this would keep the bats from wanting to make it there home. Just mount them where they will get southern exposure to the sun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
fishhook, for about $40 you can order "the simple bat detector" and listen to the feeding buzz they make. It is a kick and your kids will love it. The only place in ND I know of that has occupied bat houses is Sully's Hill at DL. They are fussy where they roost.
 
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