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Old 03-01-2009, 11:57 AM   #1
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Default BCI Bat House: How To

How to Build a BCI BatHouse

Actually, the directions on BCI's site are pretty clear, but I'll provide some hints and pitfalls I discovered building one. First off, here is the plan for a basic bat box.

Now let's discuss the wood you need. What do you do if the plywood doesn't fit in your car? Most lumber yards and such will cut the plywood into smaller pieces for you. If you already have some plywood and just need one 2' piece, it might be cheaper to buy a precut piece rather than a whole sheet of plywood. You need untreated, exterior plywood. The pine furring strip wasn't available in the size I needed at Home Depot, but I did find it (unmarked) at Lowe's. These also come as treated lumber, so you want to check the signs although the pressure treated lumber often looks kind of sickly green. You want 1" exterior graded nails (something non-corrosive).

You will also need primer+paint or stain. In my area boxes should be dark brown. How handy that this is the same color as the inside of the box! In my case, I purchased a gallon of water-based stain. Although the gallon did set me back 25$, I can stain a lot of bat houses with a gallon! Actually, the stain looks really good and I might use it for some other things, too. How do you know if something is water based or not? I looked at the cleanup. If it says something like soap and water cleanup, then you know it's not oil based. Oil based paints/stains require chemicals for proper cleanup. At Home Depot they can mix the stain to any color you wish, but remember the inside of the box needs to be dark. Depending on where you live, the exterior color may or may not also need to be dark. BCI provides a handy chart to see what color you need.

Next you need to cut the grooves into the back piece of plywood. I do not recommend trying to do this with hand tools. I started building, figuring I'd just chisel in the grooves later. Although you can certainly do it this way or with other objects, it takes a lot more effort than to just use a circular saw set to 1/16". I ended up using the circular saw, although I still had to finish the last 2" of the grooves with hand tools because I had already caulked one side. If you don't own a circular saw, you can also use plastic mesh. I would cut the mesh and hide any sharp edges under the pine furring strips if I did it this way just to make sure no one gets poked by the plastic. Exterior grade staples are kind of expensive, but regular staples will rust and that's can't be good for the bats! Cutting all the pieces is pretty easy, I just used a jigsaw to do this. A straight edged board is a handy guide, but I am far too lazy for that and just cut down pencil line.

Next apply 2 coats of the wood stain to the backboard, the furring strips, and inside of the front piece. The pine furring strips are caulked and screwed into place. As far as the caulking, BCI certified a house that uses "50-year polyurethane adhesive/sealant", so I assume that is safe to use (BCI catalog, http://www.batcatalog.com). So I just used enough of the caulking to seal the exterior sides and crevices. Clamps are very helpful for holding the wood tight while it's being screwed down. I left the clamps on for a little while even once the screws were in place just to make sure the pine board sealed with direct, tight contact to the backboard. The front pieces have to be screwed together with a 1/2" vent space between them. Once all that is done, an inspection of the seams should make certain the box is well sealed and 3 coats of stain is applied to all exterior surfaces (or however many left are needed if you already stained it earlier).

This is the current state of my bat house. I still have about 6 grooves or so to finish at the bottom by hand, screw down a roof, and apply a final coat of stain. The house is probably going to go on the side of a building at a local park, but if I have to purchase a pole, then I'll make another house and connect them with a roof. You can also purchase the Bat Builder's Handbook for more information and plans for nursery houses.
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Old 03-01-2009, 12:11 PM   #2
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Are you psychic? Beautiful midwesternerr! Thank you! We put up a request for DIY bathouses a few minutes ago. May I take your photo and lighten it up a little to re-load for you?
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Old 03-01-2009, 12:24 PM   #3
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Sure.
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Old 03-01-2009, 12:33 PM   #4
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lightening up midwesternerr's photo.
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Old 03-01-2009, 10:25 PM   #5
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I have made bathouses similar to yours. Nice job. Very much needed.
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:52 PM   #6
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I love bats. Wonderful bathouse you have made for yours. Were you the member who posted the article on the MO bats and prescribed burns? I enjoyed reading it.
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Old 03-03-2009, 09:04 PM   #7
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Yea, I'm trying to make this a bat friendly city. I've gotten some positive feedback regarding erecting bat houses around the city parks and such, but have yet to receive the final OK I need to start putting them up. Ultimately, I'd like to have a couple of bat outings a year. Kind of like Garden tours, maybe get a van and visit some yards with active bat houses during the day, and then go into the parks and watch the bats in evening, show off a couple of bat detectors, etc. Another idea I had was to get a bunch of people together and build and put up bat houses in a park, kind of like a community project. I thought that might be a way to get some positive attention for bats, maybe try to get the paper to come down and do a story.

With so many stories of man working against wildlife, I just have to do something positive for my own selfish reasons, so I feel better
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Old 03-03-2009, 11:46 PM   #8
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May we exchange some ideas?
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Old 03-03-2009, 11:58 PM   #9
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Sure, you can PM me if you want to talk about something that might reveal personal information or we could start a thread about Bats and Community too.
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Old 03-04-2009, 12:00 AM   #10
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Shall we do a bats and community thread. Where would you like to start it?
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