O’s celebration is for OH MY, OH MY! It’s BAT APPRECIATION DAY

Tuesday, April 17th: O’s celebration is for OH MY, OH MY! It’s BAT APPRECIATION DAY. Just seeing this daily celebration brings back childhood memories of watching Dark Shadows. Most people shudder at the thought and I probably would have in the past. But to celebrate the day, I’m sitting here contemplating building a bat house to put in the backyard. This thought is probably fueled by the earlier-than-usual mosquitoes in northTexas following our milder-than-usual winter. I’m dreading summer and our mosquitoes this year. Because, ‘I do declah,’ (picture good ‘ole’ Scarlett Ohara here) ‘those dreadedTexas skeeters are large enough to plumb carry me away!’

However, much to my surprise, not all bats eat mosquitoes. I lived inArizonafor a year and one morning I got up and the hummingbird feeders were all dry. Knowing they’d been almost full, I started looking around on the ground, thinking that it had been a windy night and the wind-tossed feeders dripped out on the ground. But the ground below was totally dry. A little confused, I refilled the feeders and went to work. The next morning … the same thing. Stumped, I mentioned my minor dilemma to my co-workers. It was the bats! The bats migrating toMexicoand back are nectar & fruit eaters. They left a swathe of empty hummingbird feeders and barren fruit trees in their wake.

Bat Conservation International, located in Austin Texas, sponsors Bat Appreciation Day on April 17th, because that’s around the time that bats begin to emerge from hibernation. Their webpage, www.batcon.org, is full of fascinating information about bats. If you’re around Austin, Texas between April and October (with August and late summer being the best viewing times), the bat flights over the Congress Avenue Bridge are supposed to be spectacular. That’s one item on my “must do” list that I haven’t seen yet. This summer. See this page for information at the Austin bats. http://austin.about.com/od/austinattractions/p/Bats_in_Austin.htm

According to Bat Conservation International, there are more than 1,200 species of bats. “They range from the world’s smallest mammal, the tiny bumblebee bat that weighs less than a penny to giant flying foxes with six-foot wingspans.” More than two-thirds of the species hunt insects, consuming up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in a single hour. They also tell us that a pregnant or lactating female can eat the equivalent of her entire body weight in insects each night. Move on in bats, for that feat I’ll set you up in a house. The remaining third of the species feeds on the fruit or nectar of plants (or hummingbird feeders). In their search for fruit and nectar, they are vital pollinators. Y’all can move on it too.

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