Most of us aren’t fortunate enough to get up close views of birds of prey in the backyard (and if you have a bird feeder, you’re probably glad of that fact).

The popularity of live streaming bird of prey, or raptor, web cams has been increasing rapidly in recent years thanks to technology becoming more affordable. Continue reading “Best Birds of Prey Live Streaming Cams – Worldwide”

Whether or not you enjoying feeding birds in your own yard, there’s no denying the joy and yes – addiction – that can come with watching live cameras not only fixed on wildlife in wild place but also within other people’s backyards and gardens. Not all of us have the time, energy, space, or indeed the desire to set up our own backyard bird feeders, so why not tune in to some of many “feeder cams” that more and more people are sharing with the world? Continue reading “12 Best Bird Feeder Cams to Watch in North America”

So many of us have relished the joy of nature during this ongoing coronavirus situation.

If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where birds come to you, or you can visit bird watching sites close by, you might be feeling a newfound or increased appreciation for birds and nature in general. For many of us, it’s what is getting us through the stress and upheaval of normal life during this time. Continue reading “COVID-19 Bird Watching – Birding During Coronavirus”

Bluebirds using a nesting box

Placing an artificial nest box or birdhouse in your garden to attract a specific species to – in our case Bluebirds – means being aware of what the birds look for in a nesting site and replicating as close as possible the type of conditions and structure that they nest in out in the wild. Continue reading “Which Birdhouse for Bluebirds? Guide To Bluebird Nest Boxes in Your Backyard”

Audubon Cedar Bat Shelter

We’re not only about birds here at FeatheredFeeders. Any wildlife you’re lucky enough to have in your backyard or property needs to be protected and cherished.

Bats are fascinating animals and if you’re lucky enough to have them living near you, you can provide a home for them at little cost. This is a great way to get kids interested in the local wildlife besides birds; especially as bats are generally animals that are rather cryptic and not often seen or noticed by anyone but the most curious naturalist.

Sure, bats won’t be as visible to you as the birds that come into your backyard. But you can feel good knowing that you’re doing your part to help conserve and protect these most important species.

Bat shelters are a novel way of providing much needed protection to bats. In this review we focus on the Audubon Bat Shelter which is large enough to give shelter to 20 bats.

Not many products are hand crafted in the USA these days, but this bat shelter from Audubon is. So you know it’s not going to be a cheaply made, low quality construction with a short life. This thing is solid and clearly built to last.

It’s made of reforested red cedar and obviously has a very natural, appealing look to it. It is weather resistent and designed to last long term.

The inscribed Audubon logo and bat graphic is a nice touch. Seeing the shelter up close, you could imagine something handcrafted like this costing twice as much as it does.

You don’t have to assemble the house because it comes all ready to go. All you need to do is find a great location, then decide where you’re going to mount it to give your local bats the best chance of finding their new shelter.

What bats will use this bat house?

Research has shown that many bat species will use bat shelter boxes like the Audubon Cedar shelter. The species you could get in your box will obviously depend on where you live. If you live in the range of any of these bat species then you’re in lucky:

  • Big brown bat
  • Cave bat
  • Eastern pipistrelle bat
  • Evening bat
  • Little brown bat
  • Mexican free-tailed bat
  • Northern long-eared bat
  • Pallid bat
  • Pallas’ mastiff bat
  • Rafinesque’s big-eared bat
  • Southeastern bat
  • Yuma bat
Northern Long-eared Bat
Northern Long-eared Bat – one of the bat species that could use your bat shelter

If you need something with a larger capacity, consider the Cedar Bat Chalet (25 bats) or Cedar Bat Cottage (up to 40 bats)

The landing area and interior of this bat shelter has been made grooved and rough so that bats can easily land and hold on when roosting.

It can be pole mounted if you want and the recommended mounting location for the shelter is between at least 10 feet up from the ground, ideally on a tree or on a high building such as a barn – natural locations where bats will go to find a roosting spot. Putting the bat box near water, such as a pond or stream, is ideal since bats are attracted to these water sources.

Bat Conservation International has a useful guide for installing bat houses on a building, which you can check out here.

There are holes already drilled in the box to make it easy to mount using these default holes, or you can take your own drill to it if you need a more custom solution; depending where you want to put the bat house. Also included are screws and a bracket ready for mounting on a pole, building or tree.

Benefits of having a bat shelter at home

  • Provide habitat for bats
  • Free pest control – bats catch and eat mosquitoes and other flying insects, preventing them from getting into your house. A single bat can consume hundreds of insects per hour
  • Bats also take care of insects that attack your plants and vegetable garden, plus provide a free pollinator service as bats are excellent pollinators

How will you know if bats are starting to use the shelter?

In the early stages you might find it difficult to be sure that there are any bats making use of your bat house. But the subtle first signs of bat guano (droppings) underneath plus the more obvious (and beautiful) view of bats leaving the shelter at sunset will alert you to the fact that your bat shelter is being used and valued by the local bats.

Tips for using this bat shelter:

  • When mounting the bat house, keep in mind whether it will be possible for squirrels and other wildlife to access it. You want to prevent this happening. While squirrels are unable to secure themselves inside the box (they might however like to sit on top of it), their presence could scare off the bats. The same goes for cats and any other animals that can climb. This is particularly an issue if you are going to mount the bat box to a tree. If you think this could be a risk where you are, consider using a pole instead and place it away from trees.
  • Don’t disturb the bats: Once on or more bats starts to use the box, simply leave them alone. Disrupting the colony or disturbing the bats in any way is likely to make them leave and never return. It could also cause them to abandon their young.
  • If you’re not having any luck with bats using the box, consider your positioning. Make sure the bat house is facing ideally in a south east to southern direction. It should get at least several hours of sun every morning, but be protected from direct wind and from harsh summer sun in hotter climates.
    Have patience. It can take some time for the bats to find the habitat you’ve provided, but when they do, they’ll remember where it is.
  • If you already know there are bats around, try and locate your shelter nearby.

Dealing with insects using the bat house

If you find that wasps or another swarming insect colony starts taking an interest in your bat shelter by starting to set up a nest, some people have shared their methods of warding off the insects including with a spray of water with a hose.

You’ll need to be vigilant though and deal with it in the beginning to avoid having to deal with angry stinging insects. Note that using any sort of chemicals to deter insects is definitely not recommended by us; for the sake of the bats, the insects themselves (who do have a right to live and find their own home somewhere), and for the environment at large.

We’d love to hear of any novel ideas people have of deterring or removing insects from bat houses, so share them in the comments below if you’ve experienced this!


Image credits:
Northern Long-eared Bat: USDAgov

The Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia) could easily go unnoticed if you aren’t paying attention; or don’t know where to look for them.

Mourning Warbler

Their small size can make them easy to overlook, but adult males with their dark black chest patch do stand out once you’re lucky enough to have one in good view.

These are wonderful birds to get in or near your garden if you’re lucky enough.

Mourning Warblers hang about in low shrubs as well as on the ground. They can be wren-like in behavior and even catching a glimpse of them can be a challenge as they do move quickly.

Despite that, if you catch a male in the right mood where he’s found a suitable high perch on top of a bush or shrub, you’ll get fantastic views as well as put a face to that sweet song.

In the wild, Mourning Warblers are insect eaters. Their ideal garden is one with plenty of shrubs and dense places to hide and forage for insects. They are not considered to be a species that takes to bird feeders.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on these wonderful birds in your backyard. When migrating, Mourning Warblers (along with other warblers) can appreciate a low down bird bath near ground level; just make sure it’s not going to put the birds at risk of predators such as cats.


Image credits:
tombenson76

Whether you’re watching birds at your feeders from your kitchen window, or out in the wilderness trying to tick off new species – a quality pair of binoculars makes the experience so much more satisfying. It can mean the difference between getting a great look at a spectacular bird, or not even being able to see it at all.

If you’re on a budget for buying a new pair of binoculars, you will be pleased to know that you still have some fantastic options for a quality pair of bins. No, they won’t be as amazing as a $2000 Leica pair, but there are still some wonderful choices in the lower price range and we’ve done extensive resaerch to share the very best ones in this article. Hopefully it will help to make your decision an easier one, so you can get out there sooner spotting birds and wildlife of all sorts with your new binoculars.

What’s the problem with cheap binoculars?

A low cost (under $100 or so) pair of binoculars is clearly not going to get you something at the top of the range with the very best optics available. But we’ve come a long way, and what you can get for a small amount of money these days can be surprising. For many people, a quality pair of low cost binoculars can serve you very well indeed.

When looking at a pair of bins to buy in this price range, and especially at the very low end, you can run into some common problems which are good to be aware of so you can avoid them. The lowest quality binoculars can be appealing with thier price tag, but you might soon regret your purchase and wished you spent a little more. Here’s why:

Chromatic aberration – In simple terms, lower quality optics can cause an effect called chromatic aberration that results in a halo of sorts being visible around the objects you’re looking at. This is because the optics aren’t able to focus the color wavelengths perfectly, as is the case with higher quality products. The same effect is often seen in low cost digital camera lenses. When it comes to binoculars, it may not always show up as an issue, but any product that is known to have excessive chromatic aberration problems are ones that we will recommend against buying.

Distortions – this is another issue that you might or might not notice, depending how long you spend looking through your binoculars. In a nutshell, distorted optics can make the image appear curved either inwards or outwards as if you were looking at your reflection in a round reflective ball or spoon. Even good quality optics can suffer from mild distortion, but you’ll want to avoid models that are known to have bad distortion issues.

Build Quality – obviously a lower cost binocular is not going to be built like a tank. But with that said, well built binoculars can be bought for $100 or under nowadays – you just need to know which ones to avoid. If you plan on using your binoculars for long periods of time, you’ll want something that feels good in the hands, can be comfortably held up to your eyes, and can cope with bumps and mild adverse weather conditions.