Wildlife biologists talks about Alabama’s gray bats

July 28, 2010

Here’s a link to a great video that features wildlife biologist Keith Hudson talking about endangered gray bats living in Alabama.

Alabama’s Gray Bats


Time may be running out for Alabama’s bats

July 27, 2010

Here’s an article published in the Birmingham News about Alabama bats and the threat from WNS. The article features our state’s non-game wildlife biologist Keith Hudson.If you want to witness the awe-inspiring bat flight from Sauta Cave in north Alabama, you should go soon. As Keith says, this may be the last year we will be able to witness the spectacular bat flight.

The nightly emergence — the largest of its kind east of the Mississippi River — provoked a successions of “Wow!” and “Oh, my gosh!” exclamations from the 200 witnesses on hand to hear from Keith Hudson, a wildlife biologist and bat expert with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The bats soon strike silhouettes to the delight of people gathered at Sauta Cave National Wildlife Preserve to observe more than 300,000 Gray bats emerge from the entrance Tuesday July 20, 2010 in Scottsboro, Ala. The cave holds the largest concentration of Gray Bats in the world. (Birmingham News, Hal Yeager) Sauta Cave Gray bat emergence gallery (17 photos) // <![CDATA[

This year, though, that sense of wonder is mingled with the dread of impending loss, as a bat-killing fungus called white-nose syndrome spreads south and threatens the Alabama caves where gray bats are concentrated.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this summer may be the last time we will see emergences like this. So I hope you enjoy it,” Hudson told the crowd. ” If you come back in two or three years, and it has done to gray bats what it has done in other species, we won’t see this sight again.”

Using the Anabat to study bats

July 19, 2010

Here’s an interesting video from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources that provides a good overview of how scientists use a device called the “Anabat” to study the sounds bats make as they’re hunting.

From the Georgia DNR website:

The Anabat, a system designed to help users identify and survey bats by detecting and analyzing their echolocation calls is becoming a must-have device for wildlife biologists. Echolocation is what bats use to navigate and find food. Humans are unable to hear most of these sounds but the device picks them up, lowers the frequency so humans can hear them and with the aid of an attached PDA, the calls are displayed on a screen making it possible to “see” the calls.
The displays are saved as files and can then be analyzed by the Anabat program once biologists return from the field. Certain bats have distinctive call patterns that can be read by experienced bat biologists. However, some bats produce very similar sounds, making the calls of some species hard to distinguish. Currently, researchers are testing systems that have been developed which use programs to identify the bat calls. These programs can make Anabat data more easy to analyze and useful on a much larger scale.
While it is not always possible to identify each bat by its recorded call, biologists can often narrow the list of species down to a few that call in the same frequency range and are found in similar habitats.

Bat Program at Birmingham Zoo Tuesday, July 20

July 16, 2010

The ABWG and several other groups will have booths at the Birmingham Zoo on Tuesday, July 20 from 11 to 5 to help teach kids about bats. If you’re in the area, stop by! We’ll have lots of bat information, photos, videos, and volunteers who can tell you all about bats!

At 7:00 after the zoo closes, a biologist will give a talk about bats and White Nose Syndrome.The evening event is free and will have light refreshments (while they last!) and will feature a  live bat demonstration!

Scheduled to appear are speakers from The National Speleological Society (NSS), Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama Bat Working Group, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Central Alabama Grotto of the NSS, and The Birmingham Zoo, Inc.

Hope to see you there!

Discovering Alabama: Bats!

July 15, 2010

Check out the new episode on Discovering Alabama all about bats!

Various species of that unique flying mammal, bats, can be found in Alabama. Several, such as the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) and the Big Yellow Bat (Lasiurus intermedius) are considered imperiled due to declining populations. This program follows a team of bat scientists on a research expedition into Alabama’s Bankhead National Forest to study the habits and ecological status of bats. Included are expert assessments of the special capabilities of bats and their important role in the natural environment.

The show airs several nights in July, check out Discovering Alabama’s website for the exact dates and times.

Video: The Battle for Bats

July 12, 2010

Here’s a video with a good overview of what WNS is, how to identify it, and why it is such a serious problem.

The Battle for Bats: White Nose Syndome