Notes from Nature: Kiawah River’s Wildlife Conservancy Builds Homes for Owls and Bats

As the South Carolina Lowcountry’s only agrihood, Kiawah River prioritizes residents’ wellness and a strong connection to nature by offering endless opportunities to engage the community.  

Founded by Jeff Snyder, Kiawah River’s chief environmental officer, the Kiawah River Wildlife Conservancy offers residents the rare opportunity to pay homage to Johns Island’s agricultural heritage by contributing to Kiawah River’s self-sustaining community.  

This summer, residents are helping the Kiawah River Wildlife Conservancy build owl boxes to place throughout the community and will begin adding bat boxes later this fall. And while these boxes are built for our winged friends, they are by no means your typical birdhouse.   

An owl box is typically a wooden box with a six-inch entrance hole suitable for a variety of owls. The most common owl box is a barn owl box which is used to encourage barn owls to nest in appropriate areas. Efficient hunters for small rodents, hungry barn owls help maintain rodent control without threatening livestock, pets and crops. Barn owls prefer open areas such as marshes and fields for nesting, making Kiawah River the perfect place to call home.  

If you’re looking to add a barn owl box to your backyard, be sure to place the nest box at least 15-20 feet high in a shaded area. Additionally, ensure the entrance opening is only big enough for a small barn owl to help keep predators at bay. Lastly, make sure to eliminate or minimize nearby night lights or flood lights as they can disturb the nocturnal birds. 

Similar to owl boxes, bat boxes are designed to provide a safe environment for these winged mammals to nest. A bat box can help rid your backyard of pesty insects like mosquitoes and moths, which bats love as snacks. Unlike owl boxes, bat boxes are very narrow to mimic the small spaces bats typically nest in, such as underneath the bark of a dead tree. Using rough wood helps bats to hang safely, without slipping and falling.  

The Kiawah River Wildlife Conservancy is working hard to provide a safe environment for bats, owls and other resident wildlife. Besides fresh produce and the lifelong benefits of eating locallysourced ingredients, Kiawah River’s agrihood offers the rare opportunity to engage with your community and the surrounding, self-sustaining environment.