Bat Netting at Antelope Island State Park

After the sun sets, fine mist nets are raised high into the air to capture passing bats. Courtesy and © Jessie Bunkley, Photographer
After the sun sets, fine mist nets are raised high into the air to capture passing bats.
Courtesy and © Jessie Bunkley, Photographer

[Sounds of a bat echolocating]

Jessie Bunkley – The sound you are hearing is a bat echolocating through the darkness of the night. Bats use sound to detect their surroundings. They produce frequencies that are much higher than what we’re able to hear and as those sound waves hit objects in front of them and reflect off the bats interpret the echoes to sense their environment. What you’re hearing is a bat detector that has taken these high frequency sounds and cut them down to a level that we can hear.

Adam Brewerton – I’m Adam Brewerton. I’m the wildlife conservation biologist for the Northern Region with the Division of Wildlife Resources.

Jessie – And I’m Jessie Bunkley. I’m a wildlife technician with UDWR.

Large ears and prominent nose glands are conspicuous features of this appropriately name Townsend’s big-eared bat. Her thumbs are also visible as she holds them in front of her face. Courtesy and © Jessie Bunkley, Photographer
Large ears and prominent nose glands are conspicuous features of this appropriately name Townsend’s big-eared bat. Her thumbs are also visible as she holds them in front of her face.
Courtesy and © Jessie Bunkley, Photographer

Adam – And our bat survey tonight out at Antelope Island we’ve been pretty successful so far. We’ve caught a little brown bat and we’ve caught seven Townsend’s big-eared bats. It’s part of the statewide species distribution and occupancy study and we’ve got several survey locations that have been randomly selected out of a grid system. So Antelope Island is just one of those randomly selected sites. In addition to that it’s also close and convenient for people to come out and learn about bats so that’s why we’ve invited [the] public to come out and join us tonight.

Jessie – To capture the bats we’ve set up several mist nets, which are very long, fine nets. We have stacked the nets two or three nets high and we use a pulley system to raise and lower them.

Adam – They fly into the net and they get caught and tangled. We go get the bats out as gently as we can and we come back for the measuring and weighing and identifying. It helps us to track relative species occurrence throughout the state. So being able to say that the species is doing well or declining or increasing. We can really only say that based off of how frequently we catch it in different places relative to other species.

[Bats echolocating and squeaking in the background]

A Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) is carefully untangled from a mist net. Courtesy and © Jessie Bunkley, Photographer
A Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) is carefully untangled from a mist net.
Courtesy and © Jessie Bunkley, Photographer

Jessie – Bats are the second most diverse group of mammals, right behind rodents. There are over twelve hundred species of known bats throughout the world and this represents about twenty percent of all mammals. In Utah we have eighteen species that regularly occur in the state.

Adam – The wing membranes connect all their fingers together so their hand is shaped very much like ours, their thumb sticks up with a little claw hook on it, and then that membrane stretches between their finger digits. They’re cool because they’re interesting, they’re unique, they’re the only mammals that fly, they’re skeletal structure is totally different than other mammals, they echolocate, they’re intelligent, social, they live in a completely foreign world that we can’t really understand how they view the world through echolocation. What makes them interesting too is just so much that we don’t know and [there is] so much more to learn about them.

Jessie – For Wild About Utah that was Adam Brewerton and I’m Jessie Bunkley signing off from Antelope Island State Park.

Adam Brewerton, the conservation biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Northern region, holds a Townsend’s big-eared bat after taking measurements and examining her. Courtesy and © Jessie Bunkley, Photographer
Adam Brewerton, the conservation biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Northern region, holds a Townsend’s big-eared bat after taking measurements and examining her.
Courtesy and © Jessie Bunkley, Photographer

Bats & Echolocation, Holly Strand, Wildaboututah, https://wildaboututah.org/bats-and-echolocation/

Bat Echolocation recordings from the Western Soundscape Library at the University of Utah Marriott Library,

Credits:
Images: Courtesy US FWS and USDA Forest Service
Text: Jessie Bunkley. Wildlife technician, Utah DWR/Jessie Bunkley, Graduate Teaching Assistant, BNR, Utah State University

Sources & Additional Reading

Bat Conservation International. 1997. Bat Chat: An Introduction to Echolocation
http://www.batcon.org/, http://www.batcon.org/resources/media-education/learning/bat-squad/bat-squad-ep-4-bat-chat-join-the-bat-squad

Wilson, Don E. 1997 Bats in Question: The Smithsonian Answer Book. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC http://www.amazon.com/Bats-Question-Smithsonian-Answer-Book/dp/1560987391

Bats Live, Prince William County Public Schools, Manassas, VA, http://batslive.pwnet.org/

Bat Week 2015
Sometimes misunderstood, bats are important and fascinating animals. Watch this video to learn some bat facts, find out what challenges are facing bats today and what you can do to help #savethebats.
Bat Week Video from USGS, US FWS and The Organization for Bat Conservation

13 Facts About Bats, US Department of the Interior, Blog, 10/24/2016, https://www.doi.gov/blog/13-facts-about-bats

Short-eared Owl Tracking

Short-eared Owl(SEOW) face-Courtesy & Copyright Neil Paprocki, HawkWatch International, Photographer
Short-eared Owl(SEOW) face
Asio flammeus
Courtesy and Copyright Neil Paprocki,
HawkWatch International, Photographer

Short-eared Owl(SEOW) body-Courtesy & Copyright Neil Paprocki, HawkWatch International, PhotographerShort-eared Owl(SEOW) body
Asio flammeus
Courtesy and Copyright Neil Paprocki,
HawkWatch International, Photographer

Evan Buechley and Neil Paprocki Courtesy and Copyright Jessie Bunkley, PhotographerEvan Buechley and Neil Paprocki
Courtesy and Copyright Jessie Bunkley, Photographer

Evan Buechley and Neil Paprocki Courtesy and Copyright Jessie Bunkley, PhotographerEvan Buechley and Neil Paprocki
Courtesy and Copyright Jessie Bunkley, Photographer

My name is Neil Paprocki. I’m the conservation biologist with HawkWatch International, which is a raptor conservation and education non-profit based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

My name’s Evan Buechley. I’m a PhD candidate at the University of Utah.

Neil: Evan’s lab at the University of Utah had some transmitters and HawkWatch has been starting a short eared owl project in Utah and so this was a nice fit for us to collaborate with each other.

Evan: The short eared owl is a very cosmopolitan species. It’s found really around the world, throughout Europe and Asia also. We’re initiating a tracking study of the short eared owls here in northern Utah and the objective is really to learn more about their movements. We can learn where they’re breeding and where they might migrate after they’re done breading. We just don’t know much about the movements of short eared owls and so hopefully we can pull some of that data together and really get a broader continental or even global sense of how short eared owls move.

Sound of walking through grass

Neil: So what we do is put a mouse in this little cage and the mouse is protected in the cage and we cover the cage with nooses and we put a weight on it and we will toss it out in front of an owl and the owl will try to come down for the mouse and as it’s coming down for the mouse all of these nooses are here and in theory the birds feet will get stuck in the nooses and once the bird realizes it’s stuck usually is tries to fly away and when that happens the nooses tighten (sound of nooses tightening) and they tighten around the birds feet and they can’t get out and then the trap is weighted down so the bird can’t fly away with the trap.

Neil: We’ve already caught this owl and we have it in a can so he’s nice and calm and he can’t see anything. And we’re going to get our banding kit over here. Usually the first thing that we do is we put the metal band onto his leg and the metal band has a unique number on it and [from] that number, if anyone else happens to catch this bird, they’ll know exactly where this bird came from, where it was caught, who put the band on it. So that’s the first thing we do is we get the band off of here and then we put it on his leg so it’s nice and snug, not too tight, not too loose, and that’s the bird’s new ID tag. And this whole time I’m holding on to his legs because that’s what we’re worried about because they have pretty good sized talons for a small bird.

Neil: So this transmitter weighs eight and a half grams and it does have a little solar panel on the back so it can in theory last for a very long time because the sun can keep it charged and it can keep giving us data. The transmitter is put on with a backpack harness. So we use some Teflon to attach it just like you would wear a backpack.

Evan: I say we let him go.

For Wild About Utah this is Neil and Evan signing off from Howell, Utah.

Sound of Evan and Neil getting in their truck and driving away down a gravel road.

Credits:

Photos:
    Courtesy and © Neil Paprocki, HawkWatch International, Photographer
    Courtesy and © Jessie Bunkley, Photographer
Text & composition:
    Jessie Bunkley, Graduate Teaching Assistant, BNR, Utah State University
Neil Paprocki, Conservation Biologist, HawkWatch International
Evan Buechley, PhD candidate, University of Utah

Sources & Additional Reading:
http://www.hawkwatch.org/about/staff/item/618-neil-paprocki-m-s
https://www.facebook.com/BCELab/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel