Bats might give you the creeps, but they have some amazing qualities. One little brown bat can eat up to 3,000 mosquitoes a night. Without bats, our evening campfires and summer barbeques would prove unbearable! Maine Audubon and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are looking for volunteers who know the locations of maternal bat roosting colonies in their barns, attics, or camps to conduct evening counts, and help collect baseline information about bat productivity in Maine.
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Starting in June 2012, we’ll be looking for volunteers who know of (or who can find) places where bats rest during the day and where they leave their young in the evenings. There can be several dozen bats sharing these “maternity roosts”, and we are looking for volunteers willing to sit in a comfortable location for about an hour or so at dusk and count the bats leaving the roost colony. By doing this a few evenings before the pups know how to fly (June 1st to June 24th) and a few evenings after the pups start to leave the roost with their mothers (July 7th to July 29th), we can get an idea of productivity, or how many young, on average, each female is successfully raising. Links to a detailed protocol describing the field surveys, and a datasheet for recording observations, are below.
This project covers the entire state of Maine, but for many people, there will be no need to go further than your backyard. Any place where you know a bat colony is active in the summer is a good place to set up your chair and spend some quality time watching bats. If you want to find a bat colony, it’s best to go out at dusk on a warm evening. Look in the eaves and under rooflines of older buildings, barns, garages, or sheds. Bats will generally stream out right around dusk, one or two at a time through the roost entrance. Landowner permission is required for surveys not on your own property.
You don’t need to know how to identify bat species, or get up close and personal with them to collect meaningful data for this project. The key information we are looking for is the number of bats at a site before the pups learn to fly and again after they start leaving the colonies with their mothers.
To help, all you have to do is count bats at least twice, in the evening (1/2 hour before sunset) between June 1st and June 24th, and twice again between July 7th to July 29th. The survey time will vary based on the size of the colony. FMI, see the detailed study protocol below.
Send an e-mail to email@example.com
or call 207-781-6180 ext. 222 to sign up as a participant. The protocol and datasheet below should provide you everything you need to get started.
For more information about this project, contact Susan Gallo
at Maine Audubon, 207-781-6180 ext. 216, or John DePue at Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, John.E.DePue@maine.gov, 941-4473.