Bat surveys yield good news

Assistant Resource Manager

Resource Management’s Andrew Boose sits comfortably awaiting dusk and animal activity at the start of a recent biweekly bat survey at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. Photo Annette Boose

Throughout the spring and summer months, the Resource Management staff, naturalists and volunteers get together every other week to watch bats emerge from some very cool artificial bat roosts.

The bat roosts, which are telephone poles with a wrapping of fake tree bark at the top, mimic dying trees in the landscape and offer the bats more habitat for roosting and raising young. We have been monitoring this colony of Indiana bats for many years and the numbers are increasing — which is very exciting and encouraging! Bats have a number of challenges, including habitat loss and disease. Metro Parks works to provide the best habitat and promote bat education and conservation through public programs.

DUSK AT THE BAT ROOST! Andrew Boose continues to watch as bats leave and then return to their roost after feeding. Photos Annette Boose

There are a total of 11 bat poles that we count, at two different sites. Our highest counts occurred this summer with a total of more than 500 bats using the poles on one night! In past years the highest number of bats got close to 200 when we only had five poles. The highest counts typically occur in July and August and we believe that is a result of the young beginning to fly and leave the roosts. In late summer and early fall, numbers begin to decrease as bats move away and begin migrating to their winter roost sites. These hibernation sites are typically caves and can be found in Ohio and other neighboring states. While working with other bat biologists, we have been able to band some of our bats and we hope to hear reports of where our bats may be showing up to hibernate. Do they stay in Ohio? Or move to other states like Tennessee or West Virginia?

Our monitoring efforts help build the knowledge of the natural history of our amazing flying mammals! Knowledge is power and the more we know the better we can support these amazing creatures.

An Indiana bat found at Battelle Darby Creek during a previous year’s bat survey. Photo Carrie Morrow

The first five bat poles at Battelle Darby Creek were installed at the park in winter 2015. They were the first of this type of artificial bat trees to be installed in Ohio. Metro Parks staff worked with biologists from Copperhead Consulting — the company that developed this ingenious artificial maternity roost for tree bats — and placed the roosts near Big Darby Creek, where endangered Indiana bats had been observed and monitored previously.

A composite of photos of the installation of the artificial bat roosts at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. Photos Kate Baer

One thought on “Bat surveys yield good news

  1. Great story. We started using Bradenbark at Cedar Bog just this past spring. 3 poles. Have not been able to monitor yet but glad to hear about your results.

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