Rude Awakening

By Eilene Lyon

I decided to have lunch on the deck today – apparently I don’t open the umbrella often enough!

Cautiously peering up inside before opening it, I was expecting perhaps some paper wasp nests. This little guy probably didn’t appreciate such a rude disturbance to his/her midday slumber. I swear I heard and saw it yawning as it moved its head while waking up.

My senior thesis involved studying bats, but I only recorded their echolocation calls using an Anabat II. With characteristic vocalization patterns, I could graphically identify the species recorded.

Did you know – if you could hear in the frequency range of most echolocation calls, the sound would be deafening? Bats avoid damaging their own hearing by disarticulating the bones in their ears. It’s astonishing just how fast that must happen.

I was thrilled to have a chance to photograph a bat in daylight up close – this does not happen, normally! This particular bat is a Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus). This is a species of least concern in conservation.

They are robust, begin hibernation later than other bats, and can live up to 20 years in the wild. In places that have been seeing bat declines due to white-nose syndrome, the Big Brown Bat numbers are actually increasing.

We used to have a bat that lived in our house siding for many years. When we removed the siding to replace it with stucco, The Putterer built a bat house and hung it from the deck railing. Apparently the welcome mat wasn’t obvious enough – no one ever moved in and we removed it this spring.

Bat Conservation International actually discourages having bats live close to residences. But you should not fear bats. Only if they exhibit odd behavior in the daytime should you be concerned a bat might be rabid. Bats are extremely beneficial animals in that they consume an enormous quantity of agricultural pests.

I really enjoy watching them fly around near our house at dusk, but hanging out in the deck umbrella is just a bit too close to home!

 

Sources:

Adams, Rick A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West: Natural History, Ecology, and Conservation. University Press of Colorado, Boulder. pp. 139 – 142.

Feldhamer, George A. et al. 2004. Mammalogy: Adaptation, Diversity, Ecology. 2nd Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York. p. 204.

https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/bigbrown/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_brown_bat

 

 

28 thoughts on “Rude Awakening

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      1. Not right away. I opened it a little at a time. When I first saw it, it was near the edge of the umbrella. When I came back with the camera, it had moved up inside to near the center. It seemed to do a few warm up exercises before finally flying away.

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  1. Bats avoid damaging their own hearing by disarticulating the bones in their ears.

    Really?!! So how exactly do they “hear” the echo? Do they re-establish their hearing before the echo returns? That would be pretty fast.

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  2. Lovely! I do like bats. We have mostly Pipistrelles here where we live. We see them flying around in the garden (yard) hunting tiny midges and moths. Here bats are protected and not only that but any found roosting in a domestic dwelling generally can’t be removed. There are even some regulations now (probably not in all places but certainly in some) that insist on bat spaces being built into the property!

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  3. Coincidentally, my late cousin Christine Grove Scott (1951-1998) was a bat expert in Northern California, publishing many studies. I love the little guys, except when they go after my fly when fly fishing. (They never actually take it because their keen senses know it’s a fake!)

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    1. That’s funny! I’ve never heard of them doing that. Were you fishing very early or very late in the day? I’ve heard of people tossing rocks into the air to see if the bats will go for it like an insect, but they know better. Their eyesight is also just as good as our own.

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  4. I like your bat friend. We had one that lived over the sliding door into the basement. He was a hungry fellow who dined on insects and spiders, so much so that our deck above him benefited. I’ve often considered getting a bat house, but have yet to here of anyone with a bat family in theirs.

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