Going batty in Cy-Fair
I live in the middle of suburbia close to the Houston city limits but I sometimes feel my small rectangle of backyard is in the middle of the wilderness.
We have an owl that comes out to call nightly; some type of hawk or similar predatory bird that has hunted in our yard; and several unknown nighttime critters that occasionally leave evidence of their existence. For example, the unknown creature that gnawed away the entire top half of our Halloween pumpkin late one night I don't think the squirrels that chatter at our cats could have stomached that.
So I have developed a fascination for creatures of the night including the bats that have been spotted by neighbors down the street.
I was very impressed when Heather Saucier at the Harris County Flood Control District let me know about a group of local Boy Scouts Troop 44 who spent time this past weekend installing bat boxes," or man-made homes for bats, at one of the flood control district's detention basins on White Oak Bayou near Jersey Village last Saturday.
Eagle Scout Clayton Marshall, 14, spearheaded the project to earn a Hornaday Award a program begun in 1914 by William T. Hornaday, founder of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. to honor those who help conserve the environment.
The scouts worked with Urban Wildlife Biologist Diana Foss, with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, to determine what type of nesting boxes to build and the right location to install them.
It is said that the bat population is on the decline because of a loss of roosting places caused by development of forested areas and hurricanes. Houston has 11 bat species that reside or migrate through the area.
According to Foss, bats are valuable because they consume large amounts of insects, including many forest and crop pests. The roughly 250,000 bats residing near the Waugh Drive bridge near downtown Houston eat an estimated 2.5 tons of insects every night. I don't know about you, but I like the sound of that!
Clayton's father, Bruce Marshall, supervised the operation and had the scouts make phone calls, conduct interviews, find materials and build the bat boxes themselves.
Nice work, Troop 44!