Batting in Ohio


 

Carol and I have been doing volunteer work with Merrill Tawse a naturalist with the Gorman Nature Center of Richland County, Ohio.  I have been participating in bat survey work with Merrill for the past 15 + years.

 

 

 On our second date, when we began courting, Carol joined me on one of my bat banding evenings at a NASA Research Station in Ohio. Though I’m not sure whether she was there for me, because she though I might be an astronaut or for the cute little furry guys, Myotis lucifugus “Little Brown Bat” she got to hold and know up close and personal.

 

Our most common capture...

 LITTLE BROWN BAT

(Myotis lucifugus)

Bats are the only members of the mammal family that can fly. Like all mammals they have fur and are warm blooded. They also give live birth and produce milk for their babies. Bats are known to live from 10 to 32 years. Of the world’s 1,100 bat species, 42 call the United States home and 11 are native to Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

 

 THE BATTY CREW

(Americus groupois dementius)

 

Here are a few photos showing what we do, how we do it, who we do it with and a variety of bats that we capture, band and release.

EASTERN PIPISTRELLE

(Perimytois subflvus)  

 

Captures using mist nets.

Photo sequence in the capture of a Red Bat.

 

 

 

EASTERN RED BAT

(lasiurus borealis) 

 

We have done survey work at various locations throughout Ohio; Mohican State Park, NASA’s Plum Brook, Wayne National Forest, Ravenna Arsenal, Killbuck Marsh and Pickerel Creek State Wildlife Areas.

  BIG BROWN BAT

(Eptesicus fuscus)

 

We have tracked Little Brown Bats in the wild using tiny transmitters that weigh a couple of grams.

 

The devices are glued to the animal’s fur prior to release, then followed with a radio receiver in hopes of studying natural habits, where the bats roost, mate, their foraging patterns and hibernation locations.

  

We found that individual Little Brown Bats have what appears to be very predictable patterns in their night foraging activities. One individual was tracked flying over Pleasant Hill Lake and passing over the dam during the same time period for several nights in a row. Bats may fly for miles from their roosting spots to the deep stream valleys of the Mohican State Forest to feed in the evenings.

 

 A short story...

A specific female was tracked one night after being released at the covered bridge, until the battery in the bat’s transmitter seemed to weaken. The bat was thought to be lost. While heading home from the park that night, one more stop was made; a weak beep-beep-beep from the receiver was heard.

 

The signal was followed on country roads, through a field, down a farm lane and over a hill. Instead of discovering the bat, the way was blocked by several large barking dogs at a farmstead.  All we needed was a farmer and a shotgun in the dark.

 

Returned the next day, permission was granted to explore the farmer’s barn. The transmitter’s signal was still beeping away. We followed the sound into the loft of the barn up to a wooden beam high in the loft. There on the beam was a 6-foot-long black rat snake with a full belly. He had been eating bat after bat in the loft while they slept. Oh No! Were we too late?

 

No. It hadn’t yet reached the transmitter female in the same area. The $40 transmitter was retrieved from the back from the bat. Had it been otherwise, that snake would have gone home with Merrill and the transmitter retrieved one way or another.

Lucky Snake!

 

Continuing...

While most people generally think of bats living in caves, in the summer time bats can actually live in trees, behind bark, and man made structures such as buildings, barns, and bridges.

Cave entrance at Mohican State Park 

 Abandoned  barn at Pickerel Creek.

Wooded Swarming Area

 

All but one of the Ohio bat species hibernates through the northern winters until spring. The hoary bat migrates south, but exactly where it goes is somewhat of a mystery.

 

HOARY BAT

(Lasiurus cinereus)

In winter, bats do need warmer quarters such as caves, or increasingly in household attics. This is why during extremely cold winters or as spring approaches, bats are frequently found in homes. Either they are trying to get warmer in the winter, or are slowly making their way outside to begin their summer activities at other roosting sites.

 

 

 NORTHERN LONG-EARED BAT

(Myotis septentrionalis)

 

 EVENING BAT

(Nycticeius humeralis)

 

Federally Endangered:

Ohio's endangered species the Indiana Bat... has been captured in Mohican.

 

 INDIANA BAT

 (Myotis sodalis)

 

 

 

We have also caught other critters including birds, owls, hikers, and flying squirrels.

 

 

 

 

 

   "ROCKY"

(Rockius Glidius)

 

  

Some people consider bats to be dangerous. Not true, in nature's  total scheme, bats are beneficial from pollination to insect control.  Bat rabies only accounts for approximately one human death per year in the United States. While, dogs which often are considered "man's best friend," attack and kill more humans annually than die from bat rabies in a decade. Statistically speaking, pets, playground equipment, and sports are far more dangerous than bats. Bats do not rank very high among mortality threats to humans. Nevertheless, prudence and simple precautions should be taken when contact is made with any bat.

 

On a personal note… Yes we wear gloves, and Yes we have had pre-exposure rabies vaccinations. We're batty, not crazy.

 

 

"The Journey is the Reward"

Jim & Carol