Sunday, July 27, 2008


I've been writing about the process of capturing bats so that we can record their calls for our reference libraries. There are a few different ways to release the bats. The simplest is to simply let the bat fly out of your hand. With practice you can shine a spotlight on the bat as it flies away, and hope that it will circle around so that you can record it as it passes. It's important that you keep track of the bat, so that you can know for sure what kind of bat made the call you just recorded. If you're not so good with the spotlight, you can also attach a very small light stick to the bat's belly. We use the kind of glue that's safe for kids to eat, since the bat will groom it off fairly quickly. Here you can see a light stick getting glued to the belly of a Mexican Freetail bat. The trick here is to hold the bat very gently so it doesn't feel like it has to struggle. To release the bat, you simply hold it in your hand and raise your arm up. If the bat is warm enough (and it should be if you kept it in your jacket), it will fly away after a moment. All you can see is the tiny light flying away. Sometimes they stick around, circling around the bushes and weaving in and out of the tree tops. It's magical to watch them like fireflies or Tinkerbell.


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