If you haven’t seen any bats yet this season–and it’s summer where you live–I am hoping this post gets you outdoors at dusk or dawn, looking for these marvelous creatures that benefit our earth.
Bats are not only superb pollinators on our planet, but they also eat so many bugs that they are considered an alternative to pesticides. There are about 1,000 species of bats in the world; they occupy all continents except Antarctica, and live where it is warm.
The most predominate bat at my house is the Canyon Bat, aka the Western Pipistrelle. The smallest bat in the U.S., it is about 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) long with a wingspan no wider than your hand. This is a microbat, and it mostly eats insects. Other bats, like the Flying Foxes in Australia, are bigger; they’re megabats, and generally eat fruit.
The best way to see a bat is just when the light of day is leaving or arriving. At dusk the bats are leaving their roost and going out for a night of feeding. Vice versa in the morning when they’re returning. By looking up at the sky, you can best see their silhouette.
A rural resident, lately I’ve had more luck with seeing them at dawn, about one morning a week I get lucky. I watch him or her circle a few times, then disappear into a tiny crack; usually around the house, behind the eaves, sometimes in or around the boulders or trees. In cities they like bridges and buildings.
We have a bat house where there is almost always a bat, and the all-time favorite bat hotel: inside the folded patio umbrella. The canyon bat roosts solo, unlike other bats who live in colonies.
Fortunately we’re living in a time when the beauty of bats is celebrated. We can thank Merlin Tuttle for that. The son of a biology teacher, Merlin started caving at a young age, made his own bat discoveries in the 1950s. Since then he has studied and followed bats, directed programs, and brought conservation awareness to millions of people. His incredible bat photography has educated the world. Read more about Merlin Tuttle here.
To learn more about bats, you can start with Merlin Tuttle’s website. To see a bat in the wild, break up your routine and take a walk outside one day at dawn or dusk…and look to the sky.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander