Bats may move great distances across the landscape from their summer day-roosts to their nightly foraging areas. Slow flying Townsend’s Big-eared bats were found in the lower mainland of Vancouver to move up to 4 km from a barn in a Regional District park building to their foraging habitat. High, fast-flying species such as silver-haired bats and hoary bats may cover 20 km or more (one-way) away from their day roost on a given night, with most species returning by morning back to the same roost or somewhere quite nearby. Linking green spaces across the landscape between potential roost habitat and potential foraging habitat may be important for bats and other wildlife species.
Bats need three things: food, clean water and a safe roosting spot. By offering any of these things, you are creating bat habitat.
Bat food in Canada consists of insects.A list of bat-friendly garden species in the Kootenays has been compiled by gardening volunteers. You can download it here.
Bats use aquatic features such as wetlands, ponds, channels, and rivers for drinking and foraging. Maintaining water quality for consumption and aquatic invertebrate productivity is key in maintaining high quality foraging habitat for bats. Even small ponds created by humans as a part of landscaping plans can provide an important source of drinking water, especially during summer in the drier parts of the province.
Deciduous trees are important to bats not only as potential roost habitat, but also because of their role in production of invertebrate prey for bats. Generally, bats prefer tall, old, dead, large diameter trees with peeling bark, cracks and crevices. Maintaining continuous lines of forest or high shrubbery along riparian corridors as well as plant species diversity will provide good cover and a potential diverse associated invertebrate community.
If your property has rock faces or rock outcrops, or tall rock walls, these features can provide excellent bat habitat. These rock features may also provide roost places for local bat populations – especially if the rock is fractured and full of small crevices.