The bats are swinging back to Clear Creek

CARRIE MORROW, Assistant Resource Manager

Entrance to one of the caves at Clear Creek where bats had been recorded hibernating 20 years ago
One of two caves where bats have recently been found. (Kim Myers)

It’s a chilly winter day. There aren’t any insects flying around and the creeks and ponds are covered in ice. In the recesses of rock outcrops and caves, Ohio has hibernating bats, sleeping away the winter until the weather warms and there will be food to eat.

Biologists from ODNR inside a cave at Clear Creek on a search for bats
Biologists from ODNR search for bats inside a cave at Clear Creek. (Marty Shull)

Recently, I joined some bat biologists and travelled to Ohio’s largest nature preserve and Central Ohio’s very special Metro Park, Clear Creek. We were searching previously discovered caves. I had visited these caves almost 20 years ago before the onset of white nose syndrome (WNS) severely impacted our hibernating bats. We wanted to see if bats were still using the area for hibernating and if there were any signs of the disease.

Close up photo of a big brown bat
Representatives from Metro Parks and biologists found four big brown bats during their survey at Clear Creek. (Tim Daniel)

Fortunately, we were able to find bats in two caves during our hike. There were no apparent signs of WNS on the bats. In a few short weeks, these bats will leave their winter havens for their summer roosts! Typically, bats will spend the summer using a variety of roosts including trees, attics and artificial boxes and condos. The females will raise their young and all the bats will consume enormous amounts of insects!

Closeup of a long-eared bat
Representatives from Metro Parks and biologists recorded one long-eared bat in a cave at Clear Creek. (Keith Lott)

We found four big brown bats and one state and federally threatened northern long-eared bat. We previously recorded these species in the park and are encouraged to see them still using the caves and in good health.

A Metro Parks staff member approaches the entrance to a cave at Clear Creek while searching for bats
Bats were recorded nesting in a cave at Clear Creek 20 years ago. (Kim Myers)

Many know the plight of our bats in Ohio. Their winter homes are where white nose syndrome can rob them of energy and lead to an early death. Drastic declines in bat populations have occurred across the eastern United States. Bat enthusiasts have worked hard to dispel the myths surrounding bats and are building their reputation with truth about how beneficial they are. (For more info on bats: www.batcon.org)

Go a little batty and look for bats emerging from the bat condos at Battelle Darby Creek and Pickerington Ponds.

11 thoughts on “The bats are swinging back to Clear Creek

    1. Hi Laura, I heard back from resource management. There were no bats in the Pickerington Ponds bat condo last year, and this year they will likely do a staff only count.

    1. Thanks Nancy, glad you enjoyed the story and the photos. We’re all thrilled to have found bats in the caves. (Virginia)

    1. Thanks, Nick. We’re all excited that these caves where bats were recorded 20 years ago also have bats today. White nose syndrome is an awful disease for bats. Thank goodness these bats at Clear Creek were free of it.

  1. Thanks for sharing the wonderful news about a possible local bat resurgence! Working as a part time ranger at Highbanks Metro Park, I am always on the lookout for bats as well. At Highbanks they may typically be seen in the warmer months at dusk over the fields behind both of the public restrooms in Big Meadows and Oak Coves. There was a northern long-eared bat hanging out on the ceiling inside the Northern shelter most of last year. This was a great topic of conversation with folks who attended weddings and other events in that shelter. I hope it returns and brings friends this year.

    I have two cedar homes for bats mounted in my yard. I am hoping they will be occupied this year.

    Charles

    1. Thanks, Charles. Our resource management staff were thrilled to find bats in a couple of cave where they’d been recorded 20 years ago. I’ll pass on your information about bats at Highbanks to Carrie, who wrote that terrific blog article.

  2. Always wondered what bats do because I have one (sometimes two) that spend the summer in my garage rafter. They keep my area insect free and I welcome him/her/them.

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