Gut Rumbles
 

March 06, 2005

bats

I read this post and it triggered a lot of memories. I've never had a "bat box" (In fact, I've never HEARD of one before) but I would have put up a dozen when I had my mini-farm, if they attracted bats. But I had a barn and so did almost everybody else, so bats had plenty of "boxes" to rest in.

Bats always swarmed the skies just after sundown in the summer. I sat on my back deck and watched them hunt. They are amazingly good at finding and eating mosquitos in the dark. They've also got moves in the air that no fighter pilot could ever duplicate.

Once, Jennifer and I were drinking wine on the deck and I was watching the bats perform. It was quite a show. Must have been at least 50 of them flying around at the time. "What kind of birds are those?" she asked.

"Those aren't birds," I replied. "Those are bats." She ran back into the house, terrified that one would fly into her hair.

I always liked bats, but occasionally one would fly down the chimney and end up in the house. (How the hell do those blind bastards DO that? They can't see what they're doing but they damn sure WILL fly down a chimney.) Total panic ensued among the wimmen and children until I could either catch or kill the damned thing. I always tried to catch them and turn them loose again.

I caught one in a beach towel one night and spread it out for Samantha and Quinton to see. Have you ever studied a bat up close? It's a mouse with wings. A fucking flying rodent and ugly as hell. Among choruses of "KILL IT, Daddy!!! KILL IT!!" I took the bat out on the deck and threw it up in the air. It flew away.

I was proud of myself, both for the biology lesson I gave my children and for my bat-kindness. I hope that one ate a ton of mosquitoes.

Comments

Bats aren't blind, hence the ban on flash photography during the bat flights at Carlsbad Caverns--which is an interesting sight, by the way.

Posted by: D.J. M.B. on March 6, 2005 06:54 PM

Growing up we had an above ground pool and they always used to get stuck in the skimmer. They'd dive bomb bugs on the surface of the water, slashdown, and be unable to take back off. They'd eventually get sucked into the skimmer where I'd have to get them out with a stick (they were understandably pissed off by the time we found them).

Posted by: Graumagus on March 6, 2005 07:16 PM

Have a bat box in my back yard myself, needing to put up a couple more. They are great for cutting down on the mosquito population.

Posted by: Richard Miles on March 6, 2005 08:33 PM

I was born and raised in a city until I was 15 years old, at which time my mother bought a new house and moved my trouble-making ass to the middle of northern NH. We took a quick tour of the house when we arrived...the second floor had 3 bedrooms and some unfinished 'attic-type' space. I flung open the door to that room and startled hundreds of little black things. Being a city girl, I thought they were birds. It took the screams of my friend who was with me and the realization that these things were dive-bombing me on their way to the main part of the house to make me realize these were no little blackbirds.

I like snakes (now). I'm okay with spiders, after living with some tarantulas for a few years. Lizards? Bring 'em on. Rats and mice? No problem.

Bats are the only animal in the world that can cause me to quiver and run away, screaming like a girly girl.

Posted by: Chablis on March 6, 2005 08:46 PM

One night I had three bats in my house at one time. One landed one my wifes shoulder she didn't flinch, she didn't squeal, and she didn't panic. She walked outside and it flew off her shoulder. But, she's a country girl. For the most part country girls don't panic.

Posted by: Thomas on March 6, 2005 10:06 PM

I used to have a night job as a courier, and one night a week my route included a stop behind a Sears store in a mall. By that time the mall was closed, and the parking lot even out front was pretty much empty.

When I'd park and get out to make the drop/pickup (don't remember which, might've been both), I'd catch these movements out of the corner of my eye in the parking lot lights, and it baffled me for a while how there could be so damn many little birds flying around in the dark like that making absolutely no noise. I finally figured out they were bats.

They may have been dive-bombing me, but it was so dark and they moved so fast and silently that I wouldn't have known unless one hit me -- and they never did.

The only time I went back there and didn't detect them flying around me was when the fairgrounds (not more than a mile away) was having some rock concert. Maybe the noise from the amps disrupted their sonar or something.

That was by no means the first time I'd watched bats, but it was definitely the most I'd ever had the chance to watch all at once, even if it was mostly just catching movement out of the corner of my eye. Frickin' ghosts.

Posted by: McGehee on March 6, 2005 11:20 PM

I LOVE bats! They are so cool! I'm glad you did not kill the bat that flew in to your house.
:)
Showing compassion is the best thing you can teach your kids.

Posted by: Maeve on March 7, 2005 01:28 AM

My kids had bats in thier school gym, I was worried they might kill them, turns out these were rare and a protected species...
They trapped and relocated them I guess.
I'd love a BAT BOX, I'll look into making one. :)

Posted by: Trease on March 7, 2005 10:22 PM

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/bats_&_rabies/bats&.htm

Word to the wise.

Posted by: Joel on March 7, 2005 11:02 PM
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