The Awesome Night Flyers
Bats are one of the most misunderstood and feared animals of the world. Just like we humans, they belong to the mammal family. But unlike us, bats have wings.
These creatures habituate the night which may further exaggerate the mystery that surrounds them. There have been many fictional stories told of gruesome bat behaviour and the power of their bite. But the truth of this lore, at worst, is that they could be compared to large mosquitoes.
They look the part of an evil villain, but it is only the adaptations of survival that have resulted in their unique look.
They live in caves and other equally dark places and they make eerily spooky sounds.
All of these characteristics cause consternation and fear among most people, resulting in the often usual response to things unfamiliar; destruction.
So let us debunk the ignorance and enjoy the truth about these incredible awesome night flyers.
- There are 4,000 species of mammals, of which 1,000 are various members of the bat family, that’s just too many to allow misconception to prevail.
- Bats play a significant part in seed distribution and pollination. For example fruit bats spit out and defecate the seeds in a new location, helping to relocate the plants.
- Some species located around the world eat fruit, nectar, small vertebrates, blood and fish.
- Bats that drink nectar have been seen during the night at Hummingbird feeders.
- They are the only mammal that can fly. They are amazingly agile flyers.
- The male fertilizes the eggs inside the female internally like other mammals.
- Bats give birth to one live pup (a few species have multiple births). Which the mother nurses with milk until the baby is able to forage for food on its own.
- Mother bats consume the most insects while they are nursing their pups in June, July and August in North America.
- Bats need a location to roost in the summer and a safe place to hibernate in the winter called a hibernaculum, such as an attic, bat cave, under the bark of trees, mines, bridge, tunnel, hollow log, dead tree (snags), tree holes, cracks in rocks or a man made bat shack. Bats will use any dark opening for their home and return to it faithfully for years.
- Most bats are crevice dwellers and roost together for convenience and to keep warm. But some species prefer solitary roosting locations if there are sufficient spots available. Climate will often be the deciding factor as to where a bat will roost.
- They will use a man made bat house or also called bat box or bat shack.
- All bats roost up-side-down.
- The Big Brown Bat and the Little Brown Bat are the two species of bats in North America most likely to use a man made bat house, bat box or bat shack.
- A small bat house can house about 100 bats and a multi-chamber bat house as many as 300.
- On the wing there are four very long fingers and a thumb. Between the fingers there is a membrane which makes the wing.
- Bats bodies are covered in fur.
- To find food some rely heavily on the use of echolocation while others use sight and smell more. But because bats are very loyal to a particular location they learn where the best sources of food are found.
- Bat behaviour takes place during the night time hours as they are nocturnal animals.
- Some bats will hibernate when their food supply is diminished because of temperature changes and other migrating bats will follow their food source or find a more suitable hibernation spot.
News & Reviews
- Here is a piece of information that some may find surprising and a little disconcerting: By the time you receive this newsletter there are species of wild birds in North America that have already begun to prepare to migrate and some are actually on their way!
- If you are looking for a good book on bats I highly recommend Beginners Guide to Bats by Kim Williams, Rob Mies, Donald and Lillian Stokes. This is an excellent introduction to these fascinating creatures. It has some very interesting general facts about bats, a list of where bats can be seen in captivity, identification tips, how to treat bats caught or living in your house, attracting bats, bat house info, bat conservation, and a list of every state and province with the bats that live there. It individually covers 48 species that live in North America, giving invaluable information on each one with pictures. (Much of the information in this newsletter came from this book.)
- Something to celebrate!: The National Wildlife Federation recently announced that the Bald Eagle has been removed from the endangered list.
Quips and Queries
Q: Just how much can a bat eat in a night of munching?
A: In North America, bats are mostly insectivorous, eating almost their body weight in insects each night. Compare that to a grown adult and that person would have to eat 68 kilograms (150 pounds) of french fries, or roughly 50 large pizzas in one night!. (This is really good if you live in mosquito land!)
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Bird Bluff OR Bird Believable?
TRUE or FALSE:
Bats do NOT attack humans and do NOT nest in human hair.
(You will find the answer in the red and yellow box at the bottom of this e-zine.)
Wild Bird Ballyhoo
You can order a free catalogue here from Rockler – a woodworking and hardware company. They offer superb books on building bird houses and feeders.
We really hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this newsletter, even half as much as we enjoyed preparing it!
… and that’s "The Scoop" for now!
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