All animals need shelter, whether that’s in our homes as pets or in the wild. As humans continue to encroach on wild animals’ natural habitats, it’s important that animal lovers and wildlife enthusiasts give some of the animals we share our space with a leg up. By building a nesting box or a bat house, you can give back to the flying friends that help us so much. All it takes is a little time and a trip to the hardware store.
Some bird species, like wrens, bluebirds and owls, just need a cozy enclosure with a hole to enter through. A nesting box gives birds a safe place to raise their young—and you’ll have a readymade birdwatching spot. The National Wildlife Federation recommends building one made from natural and untreated wood that’s at least 3/4 inches thick, with an entrance hole high enough off the floor to accommodate the nest, a sloped roof and a draining hole on the floor to keep rain out, ventilation holes, and a top panel that opens for easy cleaning. Steer clear of outside perches, though. Predators see them as an easy target. Not a DIYer? Nesting boxes are available in stores and online.
When staking out a shady tree or planting a pole on which to secure your nesting box, avoid areas where herbicides or pesticides are used. Also, make sure there’s an attached
barrier or baffle to deter predators.
Bats need our help, too. Since most prefer to take up residence in trees or old buildings or under bridges, a setup that mimics those conditions would be ideal. According to the National Wildlife Federation, bats prefer tall, narrow spaces attached to a building, which help retain heat and keep predators at bay. Bat house plans are available online and can be built using basic plywood painted a dark color. Caulk around the corners to keep the heat in, and rough up the interior backboard so it’s easier for bats to climb. Keep your bat buddies at least 15 feet off the ground and make sure there’s a water source nearby.