“Bat Event Today”

Bat skeleton

Let’s start with a funny story about bats.

Here’s what happened last week to Barry.

He headed outside to his garage with a glass of water in the early evening.

He opened the side door of the garage when, suddenly, kerplop!!  A bat fell down from the top of the door where it had been roosting and splashed feet-first into his glass of water.

It sat with its feet in the water, its wings spread wide, its mouth opening and closing, squeaking in fright. 

After a few frightening moments it flew off.

Barry returned to the house.

“I think I need a new glass of water,” he said, shaking his head.  “Don’t think I’ll drink the rest of this.”

Quincy mine shaft in Hancock

The bat dunking must have been one of those foretelling omens.  Little did we know that within the week he would receive a press release at the newspaper.  The Quincy Mine in Hancock was featuring a Bat Day!  Would we like to go? 

You bet.

Mostly we wanted to go because we had four hours in the Copper Country between a football assignment and a band gig.  (His band played a wedding gig on the sand facing Lake Superior in Misery Bay last night.  The best gig of the summer.  Can you imagine getting married in a place called “Misery Bay”?)

Anyway, off we went to the Bat Event.  Bat Event Today.  Sounds a little strange, don’t you think?

Bat Event Today

Lots of other people mingled inside the old building looking at the displays, waiting to take a tram ride or tour the old mine.  We remembered going on the tour a hundred years ago–OK, maybe twenty-five years ago–and suggested that maybe we ought to try it again one of these days.

But this day was for the bats.

We settled in a small room to listen to Allen Kurta from Eastern Michigan University, one of the foremost bat experts in the state.

Child shows us live bat

We learned about the Eastern Bat, the Silver Haired Bat, the Evening Bat, the Big Brown Bat, the Little Brown Bat, the Northern Long-eared Bat, the Indiana Bat. 

We learned about the three greatest threats to bats.  Do you know what they are?

Colored bat on a stick

1)  Wind Power.  The big wind power turbines create havoc in the bat world.  They don’t die from being chopped up in the swiftly moving blades.  They die when they enter the low-pressure zone around the turbines and decompress too quickly.  Their capillaries explode in the low pressure.

2)  Habitat loss.  Not a good thing.  Improperly sealed mines can create many homeless creatures.  When mines are sealed with bat-friendly closures, everybody wins. When too many trees are culled, the bats lose habitat as well.

Bat book

Before I tell you the worst threat to the bats, let’s back up and share the most positive gift bats give us humans.  They eat insects.  Thousands of them.  One bat can consume up to 2,000 insects a night.  That’s just one bat. 

Besides mosquitoes, they eat moths, beetles, flies, crickets, gnats, mayflies and wasps.

Those of us who live smack-dab in the middle of the woods should be doing dances of appreciation for the bat.  Think how many more mosquitoes would dine on our tender skin without our bat friends.  Think of what our world would be like without bats…

And now prepare yourself for the #3 threat to the species which is concerning people across the planet.

Outside the Bat Event, looking at old buildings, saying a prayer for bats

3) White nose syndrome.  This is a fungus which grows on the bare areas of the bat and has killed more than a million bats in the Northeastern United States since 2006.  The fungus doesn’t kill the bat directly; instead, it irritates the bat and wakes it from hibernation prematurely.  Usually bats awaken every 10-20 days during the winter; the fungus causes them to awaken every three to four days.  The bats exhaust their fat reserves and perish due to starvation.

“Mass mortality is expected next year,” Professor Kurta said.  “It’s a pretty grim situation.”

May the bats survive...

The Organization for Bat Conservation brought a few live bats to the program and we were able to view them up close.  (Barry, as you recall, has seen one VERY up close during the past week.) 

For more information about bats, cruise over to their website:  batconservation.org and learn much more valuable information.  You can even sponsor a bat!

We were very impressed by the Bat Event at the Quincy Mine.  We are even more impressed by the bats themselves…and hope something can be done to eradicate the disease which threatens them.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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38 Responses to “Bat Event Today”

  1. Kathy – I had NO idea about items #1 and #3 on the list. That was a fantastic report and great photographs. We had a bat house for years at our home (we live next to a protected wetlands so we get lots of mosquitoes), but we never got any bats. We learned later that they need a minimum of a 25 foots drop when exiting their habitat and our little house isn’t that tall.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, Laurie, we learned all about bat houses too. The link that I provided tells all the specifics about what is required. We’ve had an unoccupied bat house for years, too. We learned all the reasons why the bats have shunned it. (P.S. I actually felt like a journalist writing this article! Don’t usually write educational blogs…of this kind, anyway.)

  2. Celeste says:

    I love bats. The fungus situation is very serious, and I hope that the little guys can successfully battle it.

  3. Awesome information.

    WOW what unexpected excitement for Barry….

    I do have to say I expectd a pioc of the bat in water! Just kiddin…

    They are creatures I don’t know much about.


  4. Dawn says:

    So many memories! First of all I spent a 4th of July at Misery Bay, and that year the lake was so warm it was unbelievable! We had the beach all to ourselves. It was magical.

    Second I lived not far from Quincy Mine when there was nothing open to the public. It was so photogenic but it was scary to walk around there, it was dangerous. Great photos now though!

    Thanks for the memories!

    • Kathy says:

      So glad to have sparked your memories of Misery Bay and the Quincy Mine, Dawn. Last month, coming back from bringing Christopher to the airport, I saw dawn reflected in all the windows on the mine shaft. It looked so cool! But I couldn’t figure out where or how to pull off and take the picture. Have regretted not pursuing that more actively.

  5. Dad says:

    Tell Barry I have heard of lots of ways to spike a drink!!! But a Bat?????? Dad

  6. Gerry says:

    Antrim County is bat heaven, probably because it is also mosquito heaven. Go, Bats! Eat ’em up, eat ’em up, waaaay up!

  7. Another bat-lover here, Kathy!

    They’re such cute little creatures, aren’t they. I’ve taken photos of them demolishing our paw-paw trees in years gone by and just last summer they had a party, each night around midnight, feasting on ripe mangoes on the tree just outside our bedroom window.

    When their party was over the sound of them leaving the tree was nothing short of what I imagine flying elephants would sound like!

    A great moment for Barry…but where was the camera?!

    • Kathy says:

      Joanne, I have never seen a paw-paw tree or a mango tree. The image of bats feasting on mangoes seems magical and exotic. But flying elephants? LOL. Who would have suspected that from bats? As for getting that pic from the bat falling in the water…it apparently was only dunked for less than a minute or two. Of course no camera was in sight! Darn it.

  8. Jessica says:

    I didn’t know about #1 or #3 either. Great post, great lead-in with the “very up close” foretelling story.

  9. barb says:

    What happened to Barry was absolutely batty! Also, I didn’t know the three bat facts, so I learned something new – thanks!

  10. Karma says:

    I really appreciate bats for all the bug eating that they do – I can’t imagine what I’d do if one plopped into my glass of water though! My dear sister, I’m sure, would have dropped the glass and run shrieking into the house, no doubt. She’s not a big fan of rodents or birds, so bats are pretty much a nightmare to her! I, however, love to watch them in the evening. I can see them at dusk circling my pool and snapping up the tasty mosquitoes.

    • Kathy says:

      Karen, I forgot to add something important about bats. All the crops grown around the country would suffer a lot more if it wasn’t for bats protecting them from infestation. (As for your sister…I probably wouldn’t have been afraid, but I probably would have dropped the glass from shock!) Love to watch them flying outside at night. The little fellas live in the boards of our house.

  11. Susan D. says:

    Bats are cool. I’m freaked out by them, though. Was always the designated “get the bat away from the screen door/window” person. Trying to shoo them away without hurting them was no easy feat, and I’d get the willies thinking the poor little guys would turn on me, and inflict bites. I want nothing evil to decrease our bat population. Very informative post, KD, and I love the skeleton picture. Perfectly preserved – wing cartilage and all….

    • Kathy says:

      You were the bat-rescue team, Susan? The bat people–lol, bat people– said that most of the time all we need to do is open a window and the bats will find their own way out. Usually our efforts end up freaking them out more than anything. We haven’t had a bat in the house for years. Yeah, right, just as I put that in print… will give you a call if we get one!

  12. Bats, like so many predators, get such a bad rap because they are not cute and cuddly. I see bats fly every night in my neighborhood but don’t tell my neighbors who would freak out. I thank them, too. As it has been a banner year for mosquitos, I have not been bothered much by them thanks to the local bat population. Great post, Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      You’re right about that, Scott. If they were cute and cuddly they would be much more popular. I like bats. Kind of don’t like them so much when they’re swooping around or leaving bat droppings, but I figure that’s the price we have to pay to have the valuable creatures around. And they NEVER run into you. Their echo radar system is more evolved than ours…

  13. bearyweather says:

    I have extreme bat phobia … no mine tour to see them for me. The phobia comes from some icky childhood incidents .. not spooky movies, the real thing. I appreciate their bug eating … but, I need them to stay outside and far away from me.

  14. catherine andrews says:

    Thanks for informing folks about bats. Life without bats would be pretty grim, so let’s all stay informed. I just got “Stellaluna” for my grand daughters — it’s a wonderful story for kids (and adults).

  15. Love the Bat Story. there was a bat flying around during our outdoor Concert: Awakening Passion Peace and Abundance. Bats are a powerful shamanic totem, confering magical abilitites on the folk they choose. Do you want to tell Barry about that? I used to fear bats because I am early training in the Devil and Vampires and rabies. I woke one night to bats flying around my one room apartment in college. Scary! Amazing! But those days are over. I LOVE BATS! And I love your post about them and the photos.

    • Kathy says:

      I WILL tell Barry he’s been endowed with magical abilities now. tee hee…I wonder what they are. Then again, maybe the bats declined to endow him. Maybe they are mad because of the glass of water. Oh–and he told me it had ice cubes in it! LOL! He just wrote a column about this for the local newspaper. Glad to hear you’re a fellow bat-lover.

  16. K Odell says:

    oooh- poor little critters.

    • Kathy says:

      I am telepathically sending your message to the bats roosting in the walls of our house–behind me on the deck. They are appreciating the sympathy and good will.

  17. Cindy Lou says:

    For some reason, I’ve alway kind of thought bats had cute little faces – weird, hey? Lots of very cool information and I love the photos of the iron girders in the old buildings!

    • Kathy says:

      They DO have cute little faces! You are not weird, Cindy Lou. They do. And I am glad someone else appreciated the photos of the iron girders. They looked so unique, didn’t they?

  18. Pingback: Home Life Online » Blog Archive » Batty About Bats!

  19. flandrumhill says:

    The poor little things have so much going against them these days. I love bats. They are such a delight when I see them on the trail early in the morning. And I also love Stella Luna. I used to read our copy to my youngest son, especially after sitting on the front steps in the evening and watching the bats.

    • Kathy says:

      Amy, I’ve actually never read the book, but have heard wonderful reviews from so many. It’s a sign of a healthy environment that we can see them flitting about on our early morning and late evening walks…

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