08 November 2012

Going Bats

At this time of year, the Big Bog has that end-of-year feeling. The dark-eyed juncos are back for the winter, and tick, tick, ticking in the trees. Recently, I've heard and seen a pair of Belted Kingfishers at the Planet Ice end of Davies Creek. Not too far along the creek, a Pileated Woodpecker has been feeding up for the winter. These beautiful birds eat ants and all kinds of bugs, but they also eat berries and nuts. Birds in general have a body temperature that is a couple of degrees warmer than that of mammals, so it's a good strategy to have a varied diet. Maintaining a warm-blooded system uses a lot of calories.

The only truly flying mammals are bats, of which there are 16 species in BC. I've never seen any in or around the bog, but I'd be surprised if there weren't any there. One reason they are 'invisible' is that they are mostly active at dusk and at dawn, some species are fully nocturnal and some are both nocturnal and crepuscular. I am not out in the bog at these times. However, if there were a significant colony near the more frequently walked parts of the DNR, I would expect to see droppings, which I haven't so far.

Right now, bats, like all other creatures, including humans, are preparing for winter. Flying, like keeping blood warm, uses a lot of calories. Bats eat insects and other arthropods, and my goodness are they efficient at catching them - they have to be, I have no idea how many calories there are in the average insect, but it's certainly not like eating the fat and sugar laden foods that some of us two-legged mammals eat.
The bug supply dwindles in the winter months, so some species of bats, just like birds, migrate south to warmer, more food-rich climes, others stay and hibernate.

Winter can drive some of us bats, for others, it's the best time of year, but we all have different ways of over-wintering. I just consider myself lucky we humans don't have to hang upside down in some dark cave somewhere.
Or are we?

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