Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bat-tastic


     On Wednesday July 17, my husband and I took a class at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The class was all about nocturnal animals, but mostly focused on bats. It was very cool and informative, even this kid learned new things! 
     The bats we saw were big and little brown bats. These bats are here from spring until early fall and then go into a torpor (hibernation) for the winter in caves. Bats are incredibly important especially in consuming insects, especially around these parts. They consume their body weight in insects each night, and each little brown bat weighs as much as two quarters. If you think mosquitoes and moths, that is a lot! Around 1,000 insects.
     One issue bats are facing is a fungal infection called white-nose syndrome. This kills off entire colonies of bats, especially those overwintering in the same cave. The fungus thrives in the caves and can be spread by people visiting the caves and carrying and spreading spores around. According to our guide, the bats in the city seem to be stable in number over the last 10 years, showing that they may not have been effected by this fungus.
     Being urban bats, our guide has been led to believe that some bats roost right in building crawl spaces, under eaves, and other hidden places that building are full of. He even believes that many may overwinter in some of these spaces, if they can hold a temperature above freezing for the winter.
     In the videos, you will hear some radio-like static sounds. That is actually a device that picks up the echolocating made by the bats when turned to the correct frequency, making it audible to our ears, as we normally cannot hear these super high pitched sounds. And since it was dark, I took video, photos were not happening. I used my iPhone, hopefully you can see some of what we experienced. It was really fun, and please don't mind my husband and I chatting over the first video...

Big brown bats flying over the cherry trees at BBG

Little brown bats flying together and catching insects over the pond in the Japanese Garden at BBG

If you are interested in taking a class at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, check out their website here for a schedule!