Photo by Doris Evans
Were your hummingbird feeders mysteriously drained during the night last summer? Did you know that the midnight raiders were bats? Most of Arizona’s 28 bat species eat insects, but two species drink nectar and eat pollen and fruits from plants such as the saguaro, agave, and your hummingbird feeders. The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with cooperation from the Town of Marana, will be commencing their 2017 nighttime hummingbird feeder and bat monitoring project and they need your help!
Over the past 10 years, citizen scientists have graciously volunteered numerous hours each summer to monitor their hummingbird feeders for signs of visiting bats. They have provided us with valuable information that allows us to better understand the behavior of the federally endangered lesser long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae) and the Mexican long-tongued bats (Choeronycteris mexicana), an Arizona species of concern. The lesser long-nosed bats migrate north from Mexico and arrive in southern Arizona as the saguaros begin to bloom. They continue to travel throughout southern Arizona feeding on the blooms of saguaros and agaves, as well as at your hummingbird feeders.
If you enjoy watching wildlife and sitting on your porch during summer evenings, please consider volunteering your time for this worthy cause. Your efforts will allow wildlife and resource managers in Arizona to better understand the ecology of these species. The goals of this project are to understand when these species arrive in southern Arizona, to determine foraging habits and movement patterns, and to document when the migratory species depart Arizona. With your help, we hope to continue receiving valuable information and use it to understand their behavior as well as how to better protect these bats.
If you are interested in participating in the hummingbird feeder monitoring project this year, please visit Marana’s bat study webpage. The website allows participants to sign up as volunteers and to download information about this year’s monitoring protocol.
We hope to hear from you this season!