Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Baby Bats!

The guy we hired to move our monstrous "you're-sure-it-isn't-going-to-fall-through-the-floor?" upright piano into the Einsel House noticed the first one. We had just gone back out the front door when he paused and said, "Um, do you have a bat problem around here?". Charles and I kind of grinned at each other and responded with "Why do you ask?". "Because there's one hanging under that window," Piano Guy replied, finger and gaze both directed to the bottom of the office's west facing window.

Yep, that's a bat. Pretty small compared to most that we see swooping out of our attic. Piano Guy was actually quite interested and we wound up chatting about bats for another 15 minutes or so before he left.

We took a few pictures of the little bat but after that left him alone. It was the first time we had noticed a random bat hanging on the house's exterior during the day, but given the size of the colony in the attic we were not too surprised. But as dusk approached that evening, we began to notice more unusual activity among the bats. They began chirping earlier than usual, well before dusk, and the chirping was undeniably louder than usual.

I sat down on the kitchen sidewalk, eyes on the one gap remaining behind the frieze board on the north side of the house. About 10 minutes later I went in the house to grab the camera.

A web search the next day confirmed that baby Big Brown Bats usually take their fledgling flight around the first week of July. It was one of the neatest things I have ever seen. The little bats hung there, chirping and clinging to the wall and each other. Behind them you could hear more bats chirping loudly in the attic, and every so often an adult bat would push out between the young ones and swoop off into the dusk. But the babies seemed almost afraid to let go. And understandably so. Although we saw several that finally let go and flew off with their elders, we saw several more who let go and spread their wings only to fall (albeit slowly and gracefully) down to the concrete patio below.

"That wasn't flying! That was....falling with style."

Once they hit the ground, the little bats were done. Some tried to hide behind the gutter downspout. Some crawled a foot or two up the stone wall and settled in, hanging by their back legs. Remarkably, the cats paid only a passing interest in the little hissing creatures. I however, took pity on the poor things. By afternoon the fallen little bats were baking in full sun, and although I knew I probably shouldn't touch them I had to do something. I put on a pair of thick gloves and one by one transferred the fledglings to the branches of a shady tree.

Over three days I transferred nine baby bats to our walnut tree. We later found the bodies of two of the nine under the walnut tree. Six more died on the patio before I found them. One spent most of one day clinging to the screen outside our son's bedroom window:

The fledgling flights lasted about 3 nights, and our bat activity seems to be back to normal now. I found only one wee grounded bat yesterday, and for two nights there have been no twilight traffic jams of frightened baby bats blocking the one remaining exit from the attic.

Meanwhile, my brother stopped by one afternoon on a visit home from out west.

So, Einsel House bats, enjoy your last few weeks in the Einsel House attic. We really do like you, we just don't like trying to sleep knowing there are so many of you right above us. We'll wait until August so that your young have time to be more comfortable using their wings.
But still, consider this your 30-day notice.


  1. Their membranous translucent little wings are so amazing.

    And now the bat house is up! Yay!! How will you effect the transfer? Wait for them all to fly out one day or night, plug up the hole behind the bargeboard, and hope they know to go to the new bat house?

  2. We will put a one-way door over the hole where they come out. Basically, it's just a piece of screen secured along the top edge. When the bats swoop down and out their momentum lifts the screen and allows them to leave. But when they try to reenter the air-flow through the screen confuses them, and they don't remember to crawl up under the screen (or so I've read). We'll leave the screen up for about a week and then seal off the hole.

    As far as encouraging them to take up residence in the new bat boxes, we've done what we can to choose the best location possible. But in the end it will be up to the bats.

  3. Wow, very interesting. What a great science lesson for the kids and the rest of us also. I do hope the new house is a success! Enjoy !
    Love to all, Aunt Barb