Reader Joe Dickinson sent some photos of a big passel of bats (what’s the correct term?) living under a road that I drove on often when I lived in Davis, California. I had no idea there were bats there! Joe’s notes are indented:
We recently attended a Bat Talk and Walk at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area between Davis and Sacramento, CA. The I-80 freeway crosses a wetland (and rice fields) on an elevated causeway, and about a quarter of a million Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) roost under it during the summer. [JAC: This is the same species that roosts under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin and goes out en masse every night as hundreds of tourists and locals watch.] There is a very entertaining and informative talk, using rescued animals and videos to show details of anatomy and behavior. Then, an opportunity to watch the mass emergence of foraging bats right about sunset.
Here is the setting:
Bats start to emerge.
Soon, there is a continuous stream.
Then the sky is filled with bats making fantastical, constantly shifting patterns.
Meanwhile, groups of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) are moving into an adjacent field, creating their own shifting patterns of silhouettes. Altogether a great experience.
Here are two pictures of this lovely creature from the Web; you can see why they call it “free-tailed”: