Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bats in the belfry and other places...

Nectar-feeding bats, Lesser long-nosed bat, USFWS photo by Bill RadkeWe have bats! They come to the hummingbird feeder after dark, a blur of cinnamon brown instead of the darker and smaller ones that I'm used to. This guy to the right is the lesser long nosed bat and is endangered. But I'm not sure if it's this type that drains our feeders every night. The bats seem unusually large but it's hard to focus on them since they take a drink and are off, not like the hummingbirds who drink for several seconds or longer. I took this information off the fish and game website:

The three species of long-nosed, nectar-feeding bats that may be seen in the U.S. are: the Mexican long-tongued bat (Choeronycteris mexicana), the lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae), and the Mexican long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis). All three are a little over three inches long and weigh from seven-tenths to four-fifths of an ounce. Although all three species overlap in range in Mexico, the Mexican long-nosed bat is not likely to be found in Arizona since it generally appears in the U.S. only in Texas around the Big Bend area.

So how do I identify these nighttime marauders? Their arrival is normally around 7:30. When I turn on the lights they fly away. I've thought of getting a nighttime video camera to set up but that seems expensive. My neighbor takes her feeders in at night to prevent the bats from draining them. I considered it for a moment and then thought, why not let the little guys have their nectar? It's only sugar water and if it helps them survive I'm all for it. 

In any case it's been an added pleasure of our new found life here in the Sonoran desert. Every day we seem to find out some new and astounding fact about the wildlife here. Now if only the gnats would get eaten by the bats I could once more sit outside in the evening with my glass of wine and contemplate the mountains. 

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