Wednesday, April 8, 2009

swallows, bats, and springtime

I know the emotion that some people attach to the swallows coming back to Capistrano. We have cliff swallows here where I live that come back the same day as the ones at the mission.

But the coolest things that come back every springtime are the bats. Not baseball, which I love, the flying rodent kinds.

We get thousands of bats here, and on warm spring evenings I like to sit out on my deck and watch and listen to them. I know, most people have no idea what bats sound like, but they make a really cool clicking sound.

I also enjoy "fishing" for bats. You can actually do this with a fishing pole, but I just use my arms. I can stand out on my deck (I have two of them, the higher of which is probably 20 feet off the ground) and wave my arm quickly over my head, and bats will dive-bomb at me.

And I've caught more than a couple bats since moving up here about 12 years ago (not with my bare hands, though... ewww). One thing that's amazing is how small some of them are... I mean, I've caught a bat before whose body was no bigger than my thumbnail.

Sometimes, when it's really warm, I'll go to bed and leave the doors to the decks standing open (we live in a very remote and safe place). And I've woken up a couple times with a bat or two flying around in my bedroom. The thing that's weird about that (and I know there are people reading this who are on the brink of nausea at the thought of it) is that when bats fly, their wings make absolutely no sound at all. The only way I ever know when one's in my room is when it inevitably crashes into the wall trying to find its way out. I know... you're thinking bats have sonar, they'd never crash into walls. But this is not true... especially in light of the strange architecture of my room and the very high-pitched ceiling... it's easy to see how a sonar-packing bat could get confused.

Anyway, just thought I'd share my springtime and flying rodents story, thanks to my friend, Kelly Milner Halls, who blogged today about a research project she's doing with rescued bats.