By SILKE JAUCK
About two weeks ago, I noticed the first returning Red Robins and knew that spring was on its way.
In summer, our yard is busy with all kinds of birds whose names I’m still learning.
I always envisioned our meadow becoming a native plant garden with the years passing and birds nesting in nearby trees and shrubs.
Last week, we installed ten deluxe birdhouses on our property. Apparently, the male birds show up a little earlier and look for the family housing, now they have somewhere to move and raise their families.
We started our bird house project with a trip to the Missoula Public Library and learned that there are cavity and platform nesters.
Our Blue Birds are cavity nesters and like a traditional bird house, while the Red Robins are platform nesters and require a flat area out of the weather to make their homes. Just like our human homes, bird houses need ventilation.
Not content with just birds, we also installed a bat house so we could take advantage of hungry bats that eat up to 1500 mosquitos during their nightly flights.
According to the online Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Field Guide, Montana has 15 different bat species.
The bat house project was greatly helped by a visit to the Bat Management website. This website discusses design, placement, and types of successful bat houses.
For example, bat houses in Montana need to be warm, facing south, at least 10” above the ground, and painted black for heat absorption.
Our friend and local Missoula carpenter, Russ Agin from Creative Carpentry, had great tools, skills, and ideas that quickly put our plan into action. With some scrap wood, leftover roofing material, and our creative carpenter’s expertise, this project was easy and fun.
There’s free room and board in Missoula for our returning, flying friends! Spread the word!
Silke Jauck is a German native and Missoulian by choice. She and her family have packed and unpacked their suitcases and moving boxes in four continents and have finally settled in Missoula and called it home. She lives with her husband, three daughters, and a dwarf rabbit in the Target Range neighborhood. Silke is the publisher of Friendship Book, a made-in-Montana keepsake and activity book for children ages 6-12. She also has a blog about life hacks at Silke Good Ideas, and you can visit her Make it Missoula blog archive.