Bat colony brings crowds to Columbia City

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on July 3, 2014 at 11:20 PM

Updated Sunday, Jul 6 at 1:27 PM

It's not the Space Needle or Pike Place Market, but a new tourist attraction has popped up, or rather flown in, to a Seattle neighborhood.  It's a colony of several hundred bats.

They first showed up in Bruce Crowley's attic last month.

When he talked to bat experts about removing them, he learned that the growing colony included many bat babies, who aren't yet able to fly or hunt on their own.  Bringing in a crew to perform a bat exclusion would likely kill the bat babies.

"They call them pups, flightless pups," said Crowley.  "We didn't really want to kick them out because then you'd have dead baby bats in your attic, and worse than that, you'd have them on your conscience!"

At that point, he decided to let the bats stay there, at least until the baby bats are old enough to be safely and humanely removed.

What Crowley wasn't expecting was the crowd of neighbors that started showing up on the sidewalk in front of his house.  They gather every night to watch the bats fly from the roof, as they leave his house to hunt.

"It's a mix of kids and adults, sometimes there's a lot of kids," he said.

One night last week, the neighborhood kids counted 215 bats leaving his house.  The process usually starts at about 9:30 p.m. and lasts about 20 minutes.

Surprisingly, Crowley said that doesn't gross him out or scare him, to have that many bats living in his home.

"They must be between the insulation and the roofing," he said.  "They're much more cute than scary."

The house is located South Ferdinand Street in Columbia City.

Crowley said he's been told September would be a good time to safely perform a bat exclusion, and plans to hire a crew to remove the bats at that time. He's encouraging his neighbors to install bat houses, so that the bats have somewhere else to go when that happens.

Until September, he says the bats and the curious crowds are welcome.

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