By Jacqueline J. Belwood
If youâve ever looked up at the sky on a summer evening, youâve probably seen bats fluttering about. Have you ever wondered where they "hang out" in the daytime? Or where they disappear in the winter? Bats spend the summer days roosting, or resting, in trees, caves, barns, attics, church steeples, bridges, sports stadiums, or even specially made wooden bat houses.
In winter, bats sleep through the cold weather. They often roost in caves or old coal mines. Never bother a winter roost÷the bats will wake up. If they wake up too many times, they will die. People like me who study bats are trying to find summer bat roosts. To understand bats better, we need to map out where different kinds of bats live, how many bats there are, what kinds of habitat they need, and what their activity patterns are like.
You can help! Any information you can give us about the location of bats is important. Fill out the data sheet, and send it to Dragonfly.
Watching bats is great fun, but donât get too close. Always
watch from a distance! Remember bats are wild animals. Do not touch or
handle them in any way÷they may bite you. Some bats can carry a very serious
disease called rabies.
THE BAT ROOST SURVEY
Stuff You Need:
đ Pen or pencil
đ An adult to help lend a hand
Where to Look: If possible, look toward where the sun sets. Thatâs where the sky is lighter, and bats are easier to see. Look at trees (including dead ones), the tops of buildings, and any bat houses in your neighborhood.
When to Look: Begin about 15 minutes before nightfall, and watch until itâs too dark to see shapes clearly.
What You Do: Try to find and count bats leaving a roost. (Do not count animals that go into a roost when the sun goes down because these animals are likely to be birds!) Go back to the same roost for four evenings, and count the bats as they leave. During your observations, you should be at least 6 meters (about 20 feet) from a roost. Speak softly, and do nothing to disturb the roost or its bats. Never shine your flashlight on the bats.
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