Advent challenge 19 – If you give a hoot, some might think you’re bats 4


 

owl painting

Having written about the importance of so called “pests” in a previous advent post, I thought these guys needed a boost. Ecosolutions is a company that installs owl boxes and bat boxes in suburban gardens. It is run by a raptor expert who is often called on by FreeMe (a wildlife rehabilitation organization) to fix up and care for the many birds of prey that come into the centre. Owls are particularly at risk in South Africa because of the local superstition that they carry bad spirits. I cannot think of a bird that could carry better spirits…. Imagine being host to a family of birds who will get rid of rats and mice in your neighborhood?

And bats? Bats are just fabulous, yet also plagued by superstition and suspicion. Some species of bats can consume thousands of mosquitoes a night. Mosquito repellant just keeps them at bay, bats actually take care of the problem for you. Did you know that without some species of bats, there would be fewer types of fruit in the world? Without nectar drinking bats, bananas, mangoes and cashew nuts flowers would not get pollinated. In the rain forest fruit bats are considered a keystone species. In other words, without them other species would decline because they are one of the key dispensers of seeds from the fruit they eat, thus ensuring new plants in different locations, supporting other consumers in the forest.

As a hyper consumerist society don’t you think it would be cool to change the focus this Christmas? Instead of the latest plastic and electronic singing and dancing whatnot, why not give stuff that is good for the soul. Books that speak to you, art that sings to you, objects that house your local uber cool pest control experts.

Christmas and beyond:
Ecosolutions owl and bat boxes, bird feeders, barbet nesting logs and much more can be purchased here.
In America, Bat Conservation International can help you out. There website is here.
In the UK: the Bat Trust does the same thing. Find them here
FreeMe does an incredible job, housing, fixing and releasing wild animals that have had bad encounters with people or traffic in the ever spreading Johannesburg. They are an incredibly lean organisation with very few full time staff, but legions of volunteers and animal professionals who work for the love of it. Support them here. Even if you don’t have the money to donate, but have some of the items on their wish list that you can donate, believe me they will be the happiest people on the planet!

The painting? Portrait of a young Spotted Eagle Owl that has graced us with his presence on more than one occasion and tolerates being stalked around the garden, by silently thrilled people. The painting was donated to runningwithbrushes and was snapped up as a Christmas present for an owl enthusiast.


4 thoughts on “Advent challenge 19 – If you give a hoot, some might think you’re bats

  • Andrew Dicks

    If you hear of a family that need to be relocated – I have built a beautiful owl box but have as yet been unable to attract a resident 🙁

    • admin

      Andrew, I believe orientation and location are key – fussy bird alert… but I am sure you researched that before you went to the trouble. I recommend getting hold of the fabulous Nikki Wright at FreeMe and offering your hotel as a possible release site. I know they have to relocate barn owl chicks every year (there is a mine that has a nesting pair, but they don’t want a whole bunch of owls in the area, because they worry about superstitious reactions from staff, so they keep it mum and FreeMe toddles along to collect the chick once they are old enough). They released some Spotted Eagle Owls on HeronBridge school grounds a few years ago.

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