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home : columns : columns April 15, 2014


9/3/2013 1:24:00 PM
New bat for Sisters?
Dead pallid bat found at a home on Gist Road. photo by Jim Anderson
+ click to enlarge
Dead pallid bat found at a home on Gist Road. photo by Jim Anderson

By Jim Anderson
Correspondent

There is an abundance of Jerusalem cricket heads being found on porches, decks and under eaves of homes in and all around Sisters.

The Jerusalem cricket is another of those creatures we share the Earth with that gets a bad rap; most people find them, "ugly," therefore harmful, "poisonous" and possessing other disagreeable traits. That's impolite and incorrect.

Jerusalem cricket males wander about the sagebrush and bunchgrass at night, making a "chirping" sound to attract females.

Pallid bats, Antrozous pallidus, fly around at night searching for terrestrial insects to satiate their hunger; their large ears allow them to hear the footsteps of insects on the ground. Plus, they use their voice to make ultrasonic sounds that bounce back to their ears, with which they sense flying insects, and "know" the environment through which they are flying.

Upon capturing said insects they carry them in their jaws to a roost spot to devour them. (Or in the case of moths, they sometimes tuck them into their tail membrane to carry them.) For some reason they do not eat cricket heads, they bite them off and leave them on porches and decks, along with moth wings, as calling cards.

They also posses larger eyes than most other bats found fluttering about Central Oregon, and have pale, long, wide ears; their fur is generally lightly colored brown. In addition to Jerusalem crickets, they also prey on other arthropods, which include other insects, spiders and scorpions (they are immune to the venom of scorpions and spiders).

Pallid bats range throughout northwestern Canada in summer, and migrate to Mexico for winter. Hence, they are found in our neck of the woods throughout summer.

Mating season for bats ranges from October to February, and females give birth to twins during early June, which weigh about a tenth-of-an-ounce at birth.

When they are newborn pups, mom carries them about at night, but hangs them up when they get too heavy. In four or five weeks they are capable of making short flights, but do not attain adult size until about eight weeks of age, and become sexually mature around two years of age.

Keep on the lookout for bats around your place, dead or alive. If you find one dead, put on sterile gloves and place it in a plastic bag. (Don't sniff or lick it, just in case it died from rabies or some other disease unfriendly to humans.)

Make a note of when, where and who you are (with phone and/or email contact), place said bag in another one, seal them tightly and place the whole shebang in a cooler with ice. Then please call me at 541-480-3728 or 541-388-1659, or send an email to jim@northwest

naturalist.net. I will do all I can to proceed post-haste to your location and relieve you of your treasure.

In the event you would like to become a friendly host to bats fluttering about your domicile, email me and I'll send you a set of plans for a bat shelter, designed for our cool nights. It should be placed under the eaves on the south or west side of your home, away from a night light or disturbances that would annoy bats.

The shelter is designed with a flap in the bottom to catch droppings (guano) and cricket heads, which can be lowered to collect the stuff. Bat guano is exceptionally powerful fertilizer, recommended to be used in small amounts.

For your knowledge - and much to my great delight - I can tell you that a Townsend's big-eared bat I banded in 1971 in a (unnamed) lava cave near Bend was found alive and well, hibernating in the same cave, 21 years later. How about that.

Sisters Country Weddings




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