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Attracting Owls and Bats

The Martha Stewart Show, October 2009

You can attract owls and bats -- and help them mate and survive -- by installing owl nesting boxes and bat houses on your property. Animal expert Marc Morrone walks you through the basics.

Owl Nesting Boxes
When we let our cats outdoors and chop down hollow trees, we're making it harder for owls to breed. Outdoor cats kill small rodents that would otherwise be food for owls, and owls use hollow trees to nest.

Installing nesting boxes is a great way to provide owls with a home. It's best to install a box during late winter or early spring, before the owls have laid their eggs. This gives parent birds time to explore the box and become comfortable with the surroundings.

For best results, place the nesting box 10 to 30 feet high on a building or tree, and add wood chips to the bottom.

Bat Houses
A bat house is like a bird house -- if you build it, they will come. Attracting bats to your property is a wonderful, natural way to reduce the mosquito presence around your yard.

Choose the location of your bat house carefully. Bats are attracted to areas that have a water source nearby, and the houses need at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day. They're more likely to become occupied if they are mounted 15 feet high on a pole or building, sheltered from the wind.

Cooler houses (less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit) will attract male bats, while warmer houses will become nurseries for females.

Resources
Nesting kits and bat houses are available at Wild Birds Unlimited and other bird-supply stores.