Friday, December 02, 2011

Bat Postscript

Red Bat
Another bat communication from David Barrett:


When trying to identify the bat that I reported, I chanced upon your commentary in the New York Times regarding Central Park bats. I ended up getting some email responses from birders who also watch for bats, and the consensus is that I probably saw a red bat, since it is the one most likely to hunt during the day. I did notice a hint of red in its fur, and the size corresponds well so that is what I am now thinking it was.
I understand from your article and elsewhere that bats are common in the Park, but this is the first one I have seen in the last year, so for me it was a fun sighting!
David Barrett

Here's what I wrote in the Times Q&A column in 2010:


I’m curious to learn what species of bats you observe at Central Park, and how many. Here in Olympia, Wash., the large lake in the center of the city has summer visitors of more than 3,000 bats a night; many of these are pregnant, then nursing, female little brown and Yuma bats.

— Posted by Judy Olmstead


We don’t really know how many bats show up in Central Park — nobody’s ever done a bat count. But here are the five species that have been sighted in the park so far: big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus); little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus); eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis); northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis); silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans).

The time to find bats in Central Park, as everywhere else, is a little after sunset, when light is failing but you can still easily make out shapes. You can see our only flying mammals swooping over the shores of the lake, or Turtle Pond, or any of the other bodies of water on most summer evenings, but you have to have an eye for them. Most passers-by unfamiliar with the odd pattern of bat flight simply think they are birds and don’t give them another look. Of course a bat detector can be helpful in finding bats in other places throughout the park. In the Ramble and other woodlands you can often find bats hunting around the decorative street lamps dotting the pathways. The light attracts moths, and the moths attract bats. Yum.